Am I a Weeaboo? What does Weeaboo Mean Anyway?

My goal for JP is to cut through some of the mistaken ideas anime and manga fans have about Japan. As I dug around the net and academic databases researching for this article, I wondered if I really do meet my goal. Or, perhaps, I only add to the preponderances of misinformation and mistaken ideas people hold toward Japanese culture.  Andrew made a joke about me turning Japanese. After all, I enjoy tea, and I study Japanese language. The comment made me wonder: am I a weeaboo?

What does Weeaboo Mean?

desu-memeThe word weeaboo, like much of the slang floating around on the Net, originated in 4chan forum discussions. Weeaboo originated as a replace word in 4chan’s word filter system. The word replaced waponese. Waponese is a variable contraction of “wannabe” Japanese and “white” Japanese. Waponese dates to the early 2000’s. Know Your Meme (2012) claims 2002. Google Trends (n.d.) shows the word becoming in vogue around 2005. In either case, wapanese gained its definition in 4chan discussions. The word had negative connotations. After all, it started as a racial slur (Know Your Meme, 2012). 4chan moderators substituted the word weeaboo, a word from Perry Bible Fellowship comic strip by Nicholas Gurewitch (Known Your Meme, 2012, Gurewitch n.d.). Weeaboo quickly replaced waponese to negatively refer to people who had an extreme interest in anime and manga. Another word that comes to mind is Japanophile.

Urban Dictionary (2005 – 2015) goes into further detail.  The meaning of weeaboo can be reduced to a few characteristics:

  1.  Obsession with Japanese culture to the point that the person views Japanese culture as superior to their own (and all other cultures).
  2. Obsession with anime, manga, and other Japanese pop culture exports.
  3.  Interject Japanese words into their everyday speech. The words are often used incorrectly.
  4. Much of the person’s knowledge of Japan and the language is based on pop culture exports (anime and manga).

After studying conversations on 4chan, Jennifer McGee (2012) defines as weeaboo as simply a Westerner who is an overly-enthusiastic fan of Japanese culture. The fandom extends to the point where the person breaks social boundaries. McGee argues this breaking of boundaries (such as incessant and poor use of Japanese terms gleaned from anime) is what makes anime and manga fans label others as weeaboo. The word is used almost exclusively by anime fans against other fans (McGee, 2012). It is a term used to differentiate “normal” fans from the more obsessive breed. McGee also states the word hambeast is used to disparage overweight weeaboo or fans who are otherwise “overweight” in their loudness. In Western societies, obesity is considered with disgusted because it is a visual symbol of a person’s lack of control and violation of other people’s boundaries.

My Experiences with Weeaboos

I’ve spent some time around people who proudly proclaim themselves otaku and weeaboo. One of the best ways to combat a negative label is to take that label and make it your own.  Many urban blacks did this with the n-word, for example. Anyway, I am getting a little off topic. I found the behavior of my local weeaboos off-putting. It made me wonder what it was about anime and manga that attracted such obsessive and loud behavior. The loud antics and violations of personal space  troubled me.  The ignorance about Japanese culture, in particular, unsettled me. How can someone who claims to be obsessed about a culture know so little? Basing your knowledge on Japan from anime and manga is like basing knowledge of America from Hollywood movies. Certainly, some parts of the culture will be present. After all, anime is a product of Japan, but most aspects of the culture will be diluted.

However, anime would not exist as we know if America’s influence didn’t affect Japanese culture. So in many regards, anime is a mix of American culture and post-WWII Japanese culture more than it is a reflection of the entirety of Japanese culture. Who inspired early Japanese manga artists? Walt Disney. So at the start, basing your knowledge of Japan on an international cultural product is a mistake.

When I saw this problem, I decided to work to remedy the problem by writing educational, researched articles about real Japanese culture in addition to Japan’s pop culture. But now I wonder if perhaps I have turned into a Japanophile or a weeaboo.

Am I a weeaboo?

I write as if a weeaboo is a negative characteristic. Based on the Urban Dictionary and Mcgee’s definition, it is. A weeaboo is someone who is obsessive, disruptive, and simply mistaken.  People who identify themselves as weeaboo will certainly disagree with that sentiment. However, the most common use of the word does have negative connotations. It is not right to pass such judgments. Particularly, it is wrong from a Christian perspective. But, the Net being the Net, people are fast to pull other people down and label people as an “other.” The meanings of words are based on consensus. The word bitch no longer means “female dog” because of usage consensus. Therefore, weeaboo retains its negative tone.

Well, enough of that. Let’s get moving to the question. Am I a weeaboo? I will answer each of the characteristics of the definition. You might want to do the same as you read. How do you measure up against the definition. Are you a weeaboo?

Obsession with Japanese culture to the point that the person views Japanese culture as superior to their own (and all other cultures).

Am I obsessed with Japanese culture? Is that all I talk, think, and read about? Well, I just finished reading a book about the history of Western libraries. I have a book about geisha on hold on my local library, but I also itch to read a new David Brooks book. I only watch perhaps 2-4 hours of anime at most each week.  I watch more Mystery Science Theater 3000 than that each week. Japanese culture is a culture like any other. I am more fascinated with the Roman Empire and Renaissance than Japan. Japanese culture is no more superior to those cultures. It has some things America could learn from, and many problems we are lucky not to have (like karoshi and high suicide rates).

So no. I am not obsessed with Japanese culture. It is one part of my broad base of interests.

Obsession with anime, manga, and other Japanese pop culture exports.

Does Nintendo count? I love playing Mario, Zelda, and Metroid games. I don’t read manga. I will read perhaps 4 issues at most for article research each year. As I mentioned, I will watch 2-4 hours of anime each week. Some weeks I will watch more if I am need to marathon a series for JP. Anime figurines? Nope. Never tried Pocky either.

So nope here too.

Interject Japanese words into their everyday speech. The words are often used incorrectly.

Okay, this one has me. I will sometimes practice newly learned phrases or say arigatou gozaimasu (ありがとうございます). I will also use words like baka (ばか) when joking with other anime fans. I also often speak in Spanish to people or to myself such as donde esta? I lapse into Spanish more often Japanese. Pero habló español por más tiempo.

So this one is a yes–kinda.  I work on teaching myself Japanese using college textbooks. I do not use anime at all. My goal is to be able to read Japanese folktales and write intelligent academic articles about them. So does that count in my favor or against me?

Much of the person’s knowledge of Japan and the language is based on pop culture exports (anime and manga).

This is a flat no. Most of my knowledge of Japanese culture comes from academic journals and history books. I’ve read about Japan, Rome, and other cultures far longer than I’ve watched anime. I’ve read about these cultures since I was six. I didn’t discover anime  until I was 19.

How did you answer the characteristics? The question of language stands out to me more than the others. The American government characterizes “Limited Working Proficiency” in Japanese at 1,410 hours of study. It will take me and any other university student about 9.4 years to hit that mark (Rubin, 2012). Learning Japanese from anime is highly unlikely. The use of the language is more for a identification than actual desire to learn and use the language. Granted, with that amount of time I will study will likely fizzle out long before I reach limited proficiency. There is only so much time to use.  Mostly, I want to learn the language because it is an intellectual challenge.

Okay, so it looks like I am not a weeaboo. Although, I would still probably be called a Japanophile because of my interest in the culture and American otaku culture. I wrote several papers in grad school  on how comics and manga affects reader development. So, I do have an academic interest in all of it. I guess I will have to just get used to being labeled as a Japanophile.

By now, more than a few of you are likely raging at me.
“Being a weeaboo isn’t a bad thing! I am a proud weeaboo!” There is a difference between being an anime fan (and perhaps even an American otaku) and being a weeaboo. Being a weeaboo is about disregarding the boundaries and sensibilities of other people. It shows a lack of respect for the Japanese people and their culture. Their culture is far more than anime.

The problem with the Net is how it acts as an echo chamber. Opinions bounce back to us so often that we lose sight of fact and truth.  It is good to enjoy anime and manga. Japanese culture is fascinating. However, it is not good to let the echo chamber of the Net cloud your thinking. Japanese culture is not superior to American culture, nor is American culture superior to other cultures. They are simply different. Anime and manga are  good storytelling media, but they are not the only good ones. Interjecting other languages when speaking to people doesn’t make people think better of you (ehem, something I need to stop doing). Rather, it makes you come off as pretentious. Finally, it is not good to base your knowledge of a country’s culture only on its movies, comics, animations, and other pop culture exports. The best way to expand knowledge of another culture is to read about it and speak to people who live within that culture.  Superficial knowledge is only a starting place.


Gurewitch, N (n.d.)  Comic #62.

Know your Meme (2012). Weeaboo.

McGee, J (2012). Discipline and Post: Foucault and “Weeaboo Horror Stories” on the Internet. Aichi Shukutoku University Journal: Global Culture of Communication Studies.

Urban Dictionary (2005-2015). Weeaboo.


  • Am I a weaboo? Sometimes I use Japanese phrases but I use them correctly and say them correctly. I don’t use them in sentences because that is unnecessary. Sometimes in a username I might use an honorific because I find them cute, but rarely. I even tried to learn Japanese but I couldn’t because I didn’t have time. I don’t think that japan’s culture is superior because a lot of things trip me up about their culture, but other than that, I like it. I want to go there one day! I don’t identify as Japanese at all, I know what I am but sometimes I wonder what it’s like there. A lot of things i have learned about the culture was through research, and some was from the notes that they leave at the top of the screen while watching anime or side notes by translators on manga. I will not abandon my culture for Japan’s because my culture is beautiful. I like a lot of different cultures like African, Chinese, African American culture, I like aspects of a lot of culture! Some things about the Japanese culture trip me up though, Im not gonna lie but other than that, I love the diversity. Im just scared that i’ll be classified at a weaboo. I don’t force anime on others, I just get kinda sad if they say they don’t like it. I used to be able to watch a lot of anime when I was younger. I would get happy if I saw pocky or manga in a store and ask to get it because I was just happy I got to see it in person because the only time I have ever seen it is in anime. I’ll ask why but I respect that they don’t like it. Does that make me a weaboo or a japanophile? I’d hate to classify as a Weaboo… I’d rather be a Japanophile other than a weaboo and I’m kinda worried I might be one…

    • From what you state, I don’t think you are a weeaboo. You aren’t violating the social boundaries of people or trying to lord over them with your tastes in anime and interest in Japanese culture. Japanophiles have good company with scholars like Lafcadio Hearn and Basil Hall Chamberlain.

  • [my test for weeabooism – 4rd paragraph] I think that one may research weeaboo, but to get why it happens and what it causes, one should look at more general cases – and I find traces from even a few hundreds years ago. You can find same syndrome in people loving Africa, India, USA in European countries etc. Generally I’d characterize it as cherry-picking of different cultural heritages. While they may be real or not, traditional or new, so-called high culture or pop culture, I see it as making one culture from distinct ones. I used Africa as an example of very different cultures which are made into single, perfect one. And USA because we already had weeaboos almost 100 years ago – they were searching for “American dream”.

    So, I think we meet such people all the time. Being weeaboo is an effect of ignorance and biases. To be honest I think it’s the same thing as nationalism – cherrypicking of own culture and filling gaps with some unreal dreams of power. Weeaboos are very popular group because Internet promoted them. In my opinion the very general reason is the less we know something, the more we fill the gaps with our dreams. Same as people some were going to USA because they’ve heard they will be masters of life and they were dying homeless, now we have group living Japaneses dream.

    And it’s just the same as love for times, not just places. Hippie America – pretty, nude girls picking flowers, a lot of acid and there’s only good music. But for the end of this post let me say of the oldest case of “weeabooism” I know. It’s a noble savage stereotype, today also in form of anarchoprimitivism. Again – we pick things that *seems* to be cool, we fill gaps with other good things.

    Once I’ve made some quick test to check if I’m talking to ignorant or person genuinely interested in times/cultures (or even music, hardware brand etc.). “What are the bad sides?”. That simple question reveals a lot more than I’ve suspected at first. And you can do it with haters by the opposite question “ok, what about good sides?”. So, for these people who struggle with question “am I weeaboo”. It’s not an attribute, but opinion of others, but if you think it might be your flaw, try to talk for 5 minutes about things that are awful in Japan, provide additional data by some real cases. Something like “the thing that’s bad in JP is that X crime is very common; the example could be A, B or C case and while gov tried to change law, some party opposed it (…)”).

    PS: I think it might be case what S. Fish calls “boutique multiculturalism”. And while I don’t agree with his article, this term seems to be nicely defined and it describes something real – it’s worth to google for that phrase to read the definition.

    • You touch on the problems with identity within your argument. Weeaboo behavior centers on creating a different identity from the home culture’s norm. However, as you state, knowledge gaps become filled with wishes instead of accurate information. The identity that follows builds on these wishes. We would both agree that religion can also be a source for weeaboo behavior and identities. It is, perhaps, one of the first sources of such.

      Your test is sound. Seeking the negative side of Japan (as I often do here), can ground people in reality.

  • I’m still confused and it might be late to ask this but am I an Otaku or Weeaboo?

    I watch anime, read manga and light novels because I am bored. I usually read it for many hours (2-16 hours) but like I said, I do this because I am bored. If I find another hobby, I’m pretty sure anime, manga and light novels will be boring just how I got bored after playing video games for 8 years. I’m so obsessed that I have a lot of waifus and want to buy some products (body pillows and posters)

    Yes, I think Japan is an awesome country and superior to some others, this is why I am worried. Sometime I even wish I was a Japanese but I doubt it was because of anime, manga or light novels. I’m not stupid enough to compare fiction to reality. I don’t know why I like Japan but I think it’s because of their culture and no, I know their culture not from anime, manga or other fictional works. It’s from real footages and my family’s experience in Japan (My family once living in Japan for 2-3 years and they told me stories about it)

    I don’t use Japanese words while talking but I sure would love to with people who have the same interest as me and wont insult me just because I used Japanese words, But in internet or online games, very rarely I used japanese words such as onii-chan or senpai as a joke.
    I don’t talk about Japanese things (manga, anime, or anything related to Japan) with other people unless they do which I would also love to.

    What am I? Some otaku or weeaboo?

    • Sorry for the grammar mistakes. I’m listening to music so I can’t focus that much.

    • After reading your comment, it sounds to me as if you need better balance. Bingeing on content in that way, whether video games or anime or books, isn’t healthy. Boredom is a state of stress relating to the inability to satisfy creative impulses or community connection. This article gives a bit of an overview. Boredom can be problematic, as it’s linked to lower life expectancy and health problems. Perhaps your interest in Japan can be diverted into creative impulses like fanfiction writing, blogging, light novel writing, or fan art.

      It would help to balance instead of binge. Develop different interests. For example, I write, play video games, garden, cook, grow bonsai, draw, paint, sculpt, hike, read (this is a huge list too), watch classic films, and write programs. JP and anime are two items in my long hobby list, and I schedule my weeks so I can touch on most of them without bingeing on just one or two.

      By the sounds of it, you are firmly in otaku territory (which isn’t a bad thing). As long as you don’t violate social boundaries or making your fandom obnoxious–like those passionate sports fans who talk of nothing but their team–you are not a weeaboo.

      I hope this helps.

  • My friend calls me a weeaboo just because I said I know some japanese. But just because I know sone simple japanese doesn’t make me a weeaboo. She also likes anime but kinda more along the lines of Attack on Titan. It really annoys me when she calls me a weeaboo and I told her she needs to look up the defenition because I’m Sure I’m not a weeaboo but she still said I was. I kniw some people say they are proud being a weeaboo but I don’t want to be called something I’m not. 🙁

    • You are right. Knowing a little Japanese doesn’t make you a weeaboo. It sounds like your friend needs to respect your feelings and not call you a weeaboo.

    • Are you really sure that she’s really your friend? You can’t call someone a friend just because you are familiar with her. She doesn’t even care about your feelings.

      And no, you aren’t a weeaboo. In fact, you’re still too far to be considered a weeaboo I think. You dont even watch anime that much

  • Okay, thank you for that! No, I do not think Japan is the best culture. Though I do think Japan has many things that America could definitely learn from. But the same goes for japan as well. Every culture has it’s faults. They’re simply different and the difference in culture is what fascinates me most. I’ve seen how “weeaboos” act. I don’t revolve my entire life around anime. I don’t try and act like I am Japanese. I will speak japanese to my friends to practice my language skills but I will proudly proclaim myself an american. アメリカ合衆国から来まして。(I come from the United States of America). Unlike “weeaboos”, I can actually speak Japanese properly. I don’t go around adding “desu” to everything. That’s ignorant. Desu means “to be” in Japanese and isn’t used at the end of every god dang sentence. It annoys me to no end when people use Japanese completely wrong like that. It’s a disrespect to the Japanese people and it gives a bad name to those who actually appreciate and show interest in the language. Because of them, people think that if you watch anime and are learning japanese, you must be a weeaboo.

    • The key behind the weeaboo label is culture appropriation. Appreciating isn’t appropriating.

      I’ll admit that I struggle with the language. I am terrible at rote memorization (I remember history, science, and facts like that without trying but languages…not so much) and have a tin ear. Weeaboos, however, don’t try to learn Japanese properly. They simply appropriate honorifics and words like baka or desu as a way to garner attention and set themselves apart. Luckily, most weeaboos will grow out of it.

      • So I appreciate Japanese culture(to be fair American culture sucks) i do appreciate my french heritage too tho. And I use jp words in my day to day life not Baka or desu(I only use desu if it’s proper grammar in a Japanese sentence it would be weird to say that at the end of an english(and if I’m gonna call Someone dumb I’ll go all the way and use aho)) but i also use other languages I know depending on the situation (like French and karen and Cambodian and Korean) also I want to buy a yukata…..(that might be too much. It wouldn’t work for my body type anyway) and finally I cut my hair into bad bangs because I was watching too much Japanese dramas.(although now they look cute) I think I may be a weeaboo!!!! 😩😫😖😣My jp freinds call me sensei do you think they’re trying to make fun of me?! >x<

      • American culture has its good points too (they can be hard to see sometimes). Your mix of languages shows you have flexibility. It’s possible your Japanese friends may refer to you as sensei because you help them learn about other cultures. It can be used as a note of fondness too. You will have to look at the context or just ask them straight out to determine which is true.

  • Okay so, I have a question. I am a very big fan of anime. To be honest, it is what inspired me to want to learn more about japanese culture and language in the first place. In the beginning, I wanted to learn the Japanese language because I just thought it would be cool to have the ability to understand what characters in anime are saying without having to read the subtitles. Then as I began learning the language, I began making connections in anime that lead to me learning more in depth about Japanese culture that lead to the inspiration behind the anime/manga author’s ideas. After learning such cool and unique things about Japanese culture, naturally I wanted to learn more. Now my japanese vocabulary is roughly around a thousand words if I had to guess (not including numbers obviously) and I know a vast number of kanji and their meanings though not quite enough to meet the curriculum requirements at the end of high school for japanese students (which is 1,946 kanji btw) and I know a lot of things related to japanese culture and it’s history. I’m still learning Japanese. And not solely for anime related reasons. But simply bc I’m fascinated by the language itself. Would I be considered a weeaboo bc of that?

    • It sounds like anime has done what it is supposed to do–create an interest in Japanese culture and language. Wanting to learn the language and culture doesn’t make a weeaboo, particularly because the language itself fascinates you. However, if you use your language knowledge in ways that are socially disruptive–such as showing off your knowledge or falling into anime-isms over the course of everyday life–then you would fall into weeaboo territory. Weeaboo is about disruption and ignoring social boundaries and acting as if Japan is the best culture. As long as you don’t use the Japanese language like that, basically a way to boost your ego, you aren’t acting as a weeaboo.

  • Quick Not so Quick Question (if that makes any sense?), So I’ve only recently got into Anime back in late 2014 but by now i’ve already watched more than 100 anime (includes 1000+ episodes combining all series i’ve watched + rewatched) and in 2015 into Manga which I only read if ever i find any good ones people recommend.
    Now around the same time i’ve been watching alot of forms of Animation (both Western such as Disney Movies, Dreamworks, and Japanese which is of course Anime) and towards the end of my 10th Grade where I needed to decide for myself what I wanted to take up in college is where i chose to go take up B.S. in Animations for College, and this where the heavy part of the question will be emphasized on, I planned on and have started learning Nihongo (Japanese Language), primarily Hiragana (ひらがな – literally means “simple” and is mainly focused on grammar), and basic Kanji (漢字 – at the moment on the basic characters such as for writing numbers) while meanwhile i tend to act out some of the terms used and the way they were used in Anime sometimes out of random at home or when i’m with my friends who also enjoy Anime and Manga for the fun of it or making jokes (such as the infamous “Nico Nico Nii” and many more), while still acting within the boundaries of the society in our country (Im a Filipino and live in the Philippines btw) such as not doing stuff which i see in Anime in public, and half the reason why i went with Animations as my choice to take up in college was because of Anime, and as a person who grew up as drawer i’ve been intrigued with the artstyle, and to be honest it all really began from the artstyle which turned into the liking of the stories and concepts which come from anime, while the other half was me fantasizing over the Making of Frozen when it was shown on TV around the time i got into Anime… I know weird… but anyways, the question, Does this make me a Weeaboo because of me liking Anime and Manga to the point where i began adapting its artstyle, which lead me to wanting to become an Animator (whether for Disney/PIXAR or a *studio in Japan such as Studio Bones, Kyoto Animation, Madhouse, etc.), which then *lead me to planning and actually learning Japanese?

    ~ On a Sidenote, My name here is Ichiban (一番) because it literally means “number 1” and always think to myself as becoming number 1 in anything to motivate myself, and another reason why i call myself that is because it reminds me/ came from one of my favorite heartwarming (feels) songs in Anime which is “Ichiban no takaramono” (一番の宝物 – ‘My Most Precious Treasure’ in English) from Angel Beats (which was also the 4th Anime I’ve watched back when i started watching Anime)

    • From what you’ve described, I’d say animation in general is more your interest. Studying Japanese with the aim to work for one of Japan’s animation studios isn’t a sign of being a weeaboo. Rather, it is a sound idea. It’s the same as an automobile engineer studying German because she wants to work for Volkswagen or BMW.

      It’s okay for anime to inspire you. Keep in mind that Osamu Tezuka was inspired by Walt Disney.

      A weeaboo has a poor understanding of Japanese culture and animation for that matter. They are more concerned about appearing knowledgeable or as a super fan to the rest of the community. At the root of weeaboo behavior is the ego and blindness to how Japanese culture has its faults. Liking anime and studying it isn’t a part of being a weeaboo.

  • Is there any Japanese translation for the word weeaboo? Or is that not a term that ever made it there as a separate term from “otaku”?

    • Weeaboo is internet slang. It doesn’t have a Japanese word equivalent that I am aware of. Otaku, on the other hand, is a Japanese word that became a part of the Western fans’ lexicon.

  • Blah blah blah. 50 paragraphs and I’ve come to the conclusion that…
    Yeah,you’re a weeaboo LOL

    • Haha. Well, as long as you understand the definition as it is right now. It should be interesting to see how long the word remains in circulation.

  • The only things our family dose that really make people mad are no shoes in my home but it makes sense actually. And my son 3y loves anime he will not normally get in to American shows because of it, and my art is very influenced by many types of Japanese art.However I dont really care about how people see me.

    • I’ve visited many families with that rule. It makes sense. Anime often has better values than American shows. It’s best to disregard what others think and do your own thing.

  • Ok, so let me ask you this. I actually very much love Anime and Manga. I will admit that this, for the most part, is the extent of my exposure to Japanese culture.

    I will admit to being “Japan obsessed” when I was younger, hence why I got into anime and manga in the first place, but I am not so “Japan obsessed” now that I am quite a bit older, but I still love my anime and manga on a purely artisical standpoint, and actually prefer manga over their American counterparts.

    For example, I like that even though Manga is primarily in black and white, and therefore there is use of negative space, you still have a high amount of detail. Almost a complexity through simplicity type of idea, whereas American comics tend to be a little TOO detailed for my tastes and don’t have as interesting stories to tell.

    And when it comes to Anime vs American animation, one could say that I probably like Anime more based on the fact that I own more anime than american animation and I tend to gravitate towards anime, however I DO love Disney animation, maybe just as much as a lot of anime, especially the vintage stuff such as the Donald Duck toons from the 1940’s

    So does it make me a weeaboo because I prefer, and love, Manga and Anime on a simply their artistical merits, and not so much which country that either hail from?

    • No. That doesn’t make you a weeaboo. You simply like anime and manga art style more than American art styles. I prefer anime and manga over American comic art styles as well. Liking a particular art style doesn’t make you a weeaboo. The label is used within the manga and anime community toward those who violate social norms and appropriate Japanese culture and media. Liking the culture, or you in your case the story-telling mediums of anime and manga, doesn’t make you a weeaboo. It makes you a fan.

      Think of a sports fanatic versus a regular fan. A regular fan will follow a team or two and enjoy the sport. A fanatic (Yes, I know fan stands for fanatic, but bear with me) bases their entire identity on their favorite team or sport. They live for it. They also break social boundaries with their fanaticism: football hooligans and their street rioting is a good example. So too with weeaboo versus anime/manga fans.

      To stretch the analogy, an otaku is like a fan who loves sports to the point of having a sports-room filled with merchandise. This sports fan won’t miss a single game their favorite team plays, but they fall far short of the level of dedication a fanatic has. Nor do these sports fans degrade others for liking another team.

  • It bugs me that people keep using the term weeaboo incorrectly. What the term literally is for is people who have an obsession with Japan, want to be Japanese, and completely hate their own heritage and culture. They throw away their own culture, and try to be Japanese. They are not only disrespectful to their own culture, but also completely disrespectful to the Japanese culture. They are rude and impolite, and disregard standards, and some morals.

    I really wish people would use this term correctly. Being a Weeaboo isn’t a good thing!!!! Please if you can try to share what it really means. I know I will probably get a lot of crap for this, people saying “You are so wrong, you idiot”, or anything alse. But I don’t care. People need to realize what it really means. Just by you knowing the true definition helps. What we can do is share what we know, and we can even come up with a term that is actually a good thing for people who love Japan, and not a term that actually has a terrible meaning.

    People need to look at points like this, and other info to help recognize what it really is. Help make it right! Try what you can if you love Japan, to learn from good correct scoures. I love the culture and want people to realize more about it.

    • You hit exactly on the right points. People labeled as weeaboos appropriate Japanese culture instead of learning about it and easing into it. As I keep mentioning, they disregard social boundaries: disregarding standards and morals as you mention.

      Lafcadio Hearn and Basil Hall Chamberlain were among the first Westerners who developed an enduring love for Japanese culture. So lovers of Japan are in good company, but you don’t really need a label to describe yourself. Enjoyment of Japanese culture is just a small facet of who you are.

  • I don’t like the point of view people have here
    1.People here focus too much on the anime side of weeaboo. Anime(and all the Japan Intertainment) are like drug soma(from Brave new world) in Japan society. They are ‘meant’ to make people feel good. If Japanese style-soma suites you the best, you have a pretty good reason for saying Japan is the supreme country. The fact is most weeaboo don’t have any reason or bad reasons when they say that. 3.Anime is more like an artificial world Japanese people dreamed of. Most anime focus on what the Japan society lack of and not what is abundance. If you can tell the mechanism behind animes. None of the definitions makes you a weeaboo.

    People here are like “I don’t watch that much anime so I’m not weeaboo” or “I didn’t match the definitions so I’m not officially a weeaboo”. Remember! The lack of insight to Japanese (pop)culture are what really makes weeaboo weeaboo.

    • I could argue most entertainment acts as soma does in Brave New World, but at the same time stories are part of being human. Anime is just one more way of story telling that extends back to telling stories around the fire.

      I agree a misunderstanding Japanese pop culture contributes to being labeled a weeaboo. However, the label deals with how people violate social norms. They use their mistaken ideas of anime to behave in ways that anger, irritate, and put off people. They use anime-like antics to violate personal boundaries, such as inappropriate touch. The weeaboo label has less to do with Orwell’s idea of soma and more to do with lack of regard for others. Weeaboo seek to valid themselves by proving how more of a fan they are compared to others, to the point if not caring how they affect others. Weeaboo are no different from extreme sports fans who fight with fans of the opposing team. Both are driven by the ego.

  • I was wondering if you think I’m a Weeaboo? I’m a 15year old girl, and I really love Japan. As of the moment I want to move there when I’m older. (My sister does too.) I’ve never thought as myself as one, but then I started to think about how much I like Japan, and got worried…

    I do watch anime, but not very often (more like never) because I’m lazy and don’t care all that much (I actually like video games more.) And I’ve never cosplayed before. (I own Miku’s Love is War outfit, but only wear the shirt (and not very often), and some other Miku jacket fromm one of her songs with Gumi, but I don’t wear it very much.

    I started learning Japanese, not because of anime though. I started because 1. I want to learn it, and 2. I want to be able to play games in Japanese, those are the main reasons, and I have to learn it if I want to move to Japan one day. But I don’t put Japanese words in my sentences.

    I do like Japanese stuff more than American stuff, but I’ve never really cared about anything in America. I mainly only listen to Japanese music now (Vocaloid), I used to listen to Taylor Swift, Avril Lavigne, and Carrie Underwood but don’t really anymore, but not because of Japanese music. Carrie Underwood I just kinda of stopped liking, but I still like Taylor Swift’s old muisc (she changed too much for me now) and I do still like Avril Lavigne (again her old work more, but I don’t mind her new stuff either.), and I will listen to them occasionally.

    I also own some figures, but really only Vocaloid ones. I really, really love Vocaloid. (If I’m obsessed with anything it’s probably Vocaloid.) My sister and I are gonna put some posters in are room (the ones I pick out will be, again, Vocaloid), we only cook Japanese food, (but American food is all grease and fat, and we watch out weight so we don’t really like American food that much. It honestly scares us… or at least me.) I really love to bake too! I haven’t made any Japanese sweets though (I’ve had pocky and stuff like that, but I’ve never really made any.) I like making cookies and cheesecakes, but not Japanese ones. I would like to try sometime though! My sister and I also want some cute Japanese stuff like for example.

    I also play piano…but I like playing video game, and some anime music on it. (I wanna be able to play Vocaloid music, but it’s too hard for me right now.)

    I think that’s enough for you to get a good idea. But I have one other question. If someone really loved Japan, and everything about it, but had never seen anime, would that make them a Weeaboo? And why don’t places like France or German have a “Weeaboo” of there country? (Or maybe they do and I’m just not aware of it.)

    That’s all. Thank you and sorry for the long question!

    • From what you wrote, it doesn’t sounds like you are a weeaboo. Weeaboo is a label used for people who violate social boundaries. Basically, they act obnoxious and obsessive: they only think about anime and Japan and use this obsession to irritate people. They break social norms: unwelcome touch, erratic behavior, and similar things. They hijack bits of culture. It sounds like you are a huge Vocaloid fan which isn’t any different from someone being a huge Disturbed fan, or Iron Maiden fan, or Beatles fan for that matter. So that doesn’t count toward being a weeaboo. You are not learning Japanese from anime or manga. As long as you are learning Japanese correctly (Check out Genki and their textbooks) and not from anime or video games, you are on the right track.

      From what you said, you would be labeled a Japanophile instead of a weeaboo. There are teaching programs (called JET) that can get you into Japan’s door. The contracts last for a few years, and they can sometimes help you get into permanent jobs. If you want to learn more about Japan, I suggest you watch NHK News. You can find it streaming online.

      Cooking Japanese food is a good idea. American food isn’t healthy by any stretch of the imagination.

      So again, it doesn’t sound like you are a weeaboo. The best way to tell is how much your Japan focus annoys people. If it annoys them or your find yourself talking about Japan constantly, then you are in weeaboo territory and need to dial it back.

      If someone really loved Japan, and everything about it, but had never seen anime, would that make them a Weeaboo?

      Nope. Weeaboo is a term used by the anime community. If you are not in the community, the term can’t apply. Japanophile is the label best applied instead. Basil Hall Chamberlain and other scholars are in this category, so it isn’t a bad thing.

      And why don’t places like France or German have a “Weeaboo” of there country?

      There are people who are obsessed with cultures like French. As an American we often don’t see how people will fixate on American culture and emulate it. In essence to the point of being an “Ameraboo.”Keep in mind that “weeaboo” is an Internet term used to talk down on people who violate certain social norms. The term is used by the anime community (or rather some sections of it) to separate themselves from the most rabid, egotistical fans. Much of weeabooness deals with ego more than a love for Japanese culture. They are like the extreme fans in sports who tattoo their favorite teams logo and take everything to the extreme. To get back to your question, part of the reason why we don’t see German or French obsessed fans have to do with fandom. Anime shares many of the same fandom elements as sports. Sports also ranks their fans and labels them. However, unlike sports, anime is closely associated with a single country. Hence, you get this spill over fandom for Japan’s culture. You can see something similar with how the Japanese obsess over American baseball. Baseball is closely tied to the US more so than nearly any other country.

      I hope this answers your question!

  • Hmm old article but i really enjoyed reading this and the comments. I dont think im a weeaboo cause i dont base my knowledge on anime nor expect japan to be like its portrayed there (also the language used in anime is different, sort of a japanese slang i guess? Very informal at least) but I do obsess a lot over japan together with my husband. Tho i still enjoy other things, the otaku culture sure took my interest then again i love geishas too and castles and the history behind it 🙂 i travelled there once now and intend to go again.

    I dont mix in japanese eventhough i studied japanese 1 year and now in my spare time when i feel like it (had to stop due to personal reasons sadly) I simply learn it so i can express myself when in japan or for joking (baka) i can be a bit defensive when it comes to my favorite character but thats only if there are false assumptions or someone calling her a bitch for no reason and i start to wonder why someone posts that thus start a discussion (usually a waste of time oh well xD) otaku are extreme as well from what ive seen, such dedication in a sega hall.. For hrs and a basket full of goods from his fav girl ^^”

    While i have a looot of anime figures and manga.. Am i weeaboo for having them? Nah.. I still have other things in the house i like 🙂 for example crystals and fantasy figures but yeah anime figs are a big part of me (realise it when moving out damn) so i guess obsession over anime and manga applies..

    But ive never crossed someones boundary i think.

    As for superiority, while i have a major interest in japan, i wouldnt want to live there and love my own country (netherlands) tho it would be easier for figure buying but rest as a woman.. It can be a pretty harsh world or so i heard.

    I do refer to myself as louise otaku cause of my huge dedication to her, owning every figure of her there is plus a lot of merch. (Louise valliere, zero no tsukaima) but I do realise if I were in jp it wouldnt be an appropiate title to refer to myself as 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment Chloe :). As you point out, there are various degrees of fandom. Collecting figurines and having an interest in Japanese culture doesn’t make a person a weeaboo. The fact you haven’t crossed a person’s boundaries of socially appropriate behavior means the label weeaboo doesn’t apply to you.

      It will be interesting to see if weeaboo becomes a more positive term for Western fans, just as otaku has. Weeaboo, however, doesn’t have roots in Japanese language. It is Internet slang. However, some aspects of modern Internet slang has made it to the lexicon: google (as a verb), leet. Without having a pedigree in an actual world, the fate of the word weeaboo is uncertain. But in the end, we need to remember it is a label, a shorthand for perceived reality. It doesn’t define that reality, nor does it fully describe a person who falls under the label’s definition.

  • Am I a weeaboo? I, honestly, do like Japan. I find it’s culture interesting. I don’t usually use Japanese on a daily basis but I use it from time to time. In fact, I did start learning Japanese after watching anime for a long time, but I know that anime doesn’t equal Japan. I don’t get my knowledge about Japan from anime or manga though. I actually read about it and do research from time to time because I am curious. Many say that weeaboos don’t respect Japan nor it’s culture, but I do. I don’t really think Japan is superior to other countries but I sometimes believe that their products are superior to others. I don’t call myself Japanese either.

    • Weeaboos are defined by their lack of boundaries. They cross personal space and social norms in an effort to show their fandom. Anime often sparks an interest in Japanese language. In fact, the Japanese government sees anime and other pop-culture exports as a way of extending Japanese culture to the rest of the world. I also agree with you about Japanese products. Japanese car engines are superior to most American models, for example.

      You have to make the decision about your weeabooness, but from the little you’ve stated it doesn’t sound like you are. A weeaboo would rage against what I wrote rather than think on it. Threats to identity can inflame some of them.

  • My friends called me weeaboo and would only call me by that all day. Having no idea what it meant, I had to wait all day to look it up. Now that I know, thanks a lot guys! I’m an annoying anime-freak!

    • The word otaku used to be a negative label for anime fans. Now it is a label many fans wear with pride. Perhaps with time weeaboo will become the same.

  • Here’s how you become one:

    • Naruto 😛

  • Weeaboo from Urban Dictionary: Someone who is obsessed with Japan/Japanese Culture/Anime, etc. and attempts to act as if they were Japanese, even though they’re far from it.

    • Yes, I used Urban Dictionary as one of my sources. Weeaboo extends a little further than acting (or trying to act) Japanese and into violating personal boundaries with their behavior.

  • Some thoughts on this:

    1. Culture is fluid, and your culture can and, in fact, does change throughout your life, whether you realize it, pay attention to it or not. Culture is not race. Race, for one thing, doesn’t exist from a scientific standpoint (we are all mixed and all over 99% genetically identical – so the concept of race does not hold up). Culture migrates with people and can be and is picked up by new people all the time – it has always been this way throughout all of human history. American culture, Japanese culture, English culture, Indian culture, none of these are static things – they became what they are by assimilating aspects of other cultures they encountered throughout history. American culture in particular is an amalgamation of vastly different cultural influences from countries all around the planet. Language is a cultural product. Did you know that the English language already contains quite a LOT of words derived from East Asian languages? Even the word Ketchup has a Chinese origin, for instance. Tea, as well. Likewise, Japan and other Asian countries have absorbed European cultural elements for centuries. It is entirely foolish to even begin to act as if “Japanese culture” is something strictly for people who “look” Japanese. Especially in light of the fact that we now know that looks tell you next to nothing about actual genetic heritage (or cultural heritage for that matter). I look like my Eastern European (Estonian) part of the family, but I actually am part Asian (Yakut/Mongolian/Chinese) and part Native American (1/8th to be exact or about 16% Native – and Natives originated in Asia to begin with as well) – in every cell of my body, genes from people in Mongolia, China, and even native American tribes are written into my very DNA -the essence of my being. BUT, because I dont “look” like my Asian ancestors, then I must be “pretending” to be that if I indulge in any Asian cultures, huh? That said, there IS a such thing as harmful cultural appropriation e.g. using sacred tribal designs as some sort of a fashion statement or misusing elements of a culture in ways that are harmful to others or just plain stupid.

    2. There is nothing wrong with finding one culture to be superior to another – and finding that culture more appealing is just a facet of being human. People have, again, done this throughout history. It’s how culture evolves, travels, and merges with other cultures. And by the way, simply living in a country doesn’t make the culture of that country YOUR personal culture. My family came from Estonia – I live in the US presently – but I have NEVER felt connected to American culture and have always had a far stronger influence from Estonian culture as well as Chinese culture (partly because Estonian culture is surprisingly similar many ways, and partly because I grew up surrounded by Chinese culture and even learning to write and speak Chinese at a very young age – my fiancee is, unsurprisingly, Chinese) – for some of us, connection to a certain culture had NOTHING to do with mimicking anime or any other pop cultural influence and everything to do with the actual culture we grew up with. In a very real way, some of us did actually grow up with Japanese, Chinese, Korean, etc cultures and it shaped who we are – we didn’t “choose” it and we didn’t “pretend” to be of it. You CAN be of European descent and culturally Japanese or Chinese or any other culture just because that’s the culture you very literally grew up with. The funny thing is, my fiancee constantly comments that she’s more Americanized than I am and my views are very Chinese. Well, my early friends, my teachers, etc were Chinese and I came from a mixed family with a Grandmother who had decidedly Eastern values, so this is not surprising that I feel more at home with Chinese culture than American general culture.

    3. Nobody – NOBODY but YOU has the right to determine what YOUR OWN CULTURE is. What is culture? It is a combination of things – lifestyle, language, social preferences and pressures, and other factors that most heavily influence you. It has NOTHING to do with your perceived “race”. I have friends who live in Japan and grew UP in Japan who are Japanese citizens and speak Japanese fluently – and they are of European descent, genetically. I had a friend growing up whose family originated in Germany but who grew up in China and actually spoke English with a Chinese accent because Mandarin was the first language he learned and English the third language he learned. But people thought this was absurd – how could a “white guy” be Chinese? Again, they failed to understand that culture and nationality and “race” are NOT THE SAME THING. If you are most heavily influenced by Japanese culture and you legitimately live a Japanese lifestyle, speak the language, understand and participate actively in the culture, guess what? Regardless of country of origin, you CAN become assimilated into Japanese culture or ANY culture in much the same way a Japanese man moving to America can eventually become so Americanized that he now is culturally more American than Japanese.

    People have a mental block, though, when it comes to matters involving East Asian countries and people who don’t “look” Asian becoming a part of the fabric of that culture. They have an index card mentality wherein they cant accept any view of an Asian culture other than strictly belonging to people who “look” Asian.

    Such arrogance, to try to tell another person what their culture is or should be or to act as if they are somehow a bad person for finding another culture more appealing and migrating toward that one. Granted, there IS a difference between people who legitimately become a part of the culture and it a part of them and legitimately understand it – and people who just think it’s cool to repeat a few phrases they heard on an anime in an effort to be more cool or exotic. But if a person legitimately loves, appreciates, and wants to assimilate into another culture? You have NO right to mock them for it. Your ancestors all came from somewhere at some point in time and had to assimilate into another culture – so cultural change is a part of all of our heritage.

    Try to be careful in how you judge people. Especially if you’re in America – land of stolen Native names (take a look at a lot of city, state, and county names – “borrowed” from Native culture) and broken promises and cultural appropriation from every country on earth. Americans really have NO place to talk about obsessively borrowing from or outright appropriating from other cultures. America IS one big amalgamation of appropriated cultures. Next time you drop by a Chinese restaurant or bite into a Jack Links Sasquatch jerky (Sasquatch being taken from Native culture)…really think about how much you use other cultures without even thinking about it. And how those cultures, without you even realizing it, became a part of your own muddled up mish mash culture.

    • Thank you for your comments! I agree with most of your points. Culture is a living creation. Just the other day I was discussing with a friend about how American English is a mix of words from all over the world. We also agreed how most English speakers think little of using a word like tea, despite being foreign in origin.

      I disagree with the idea that any culture is superior. It can, perhaps, appeal more to you. Many aspects of Japanese culture appeals to me more than American, for example. However, no culture is superior. There isn’t any objective way to define superiority.

      I agree. Culture is separate from ethnicity. However, weeaboos have less to do with culture and more to do with setting themselves apart from other anime fans. I agree that people need to careful about judging others. Digressing into perceived appropriation of other cultures by American culture is a bit off topic. Weaaboo is a label used within Western Internet communities to describe fans who overstep themselves and use their (often mistaken) understanding of Japanese culture to set themselves apart from other fans. It has little to do with Japanese culture and more with the culture of anime fans themselves.

    • Exactly what Eestiguy says. US military helicopters and sports teams (especially with highly offensive names like “Red Skin’s”) being named after the indigenous population which the US Army killed off 90% of, doesn’t make them any more “Native American”, and doesn’t exactly say good things about “US culture” (AKA, slop like stew of everyone elses blended together and re-branded as “American”). Maybe there should be a term for this, like “Wanatives” or “Nativeboos”, or something else of that nature. I find it hypocritical beyond the means of words to describe, that certain cretins here in the states have the nerve to casually refer to themselves as “native” merely because of their birth location, yet having no ethnic ties with Native Americans, and even having the nerve to screech “git outta muh cuntry” to anyone who disagree’s with their politics, or idea of what the term “American” means. Yet many of these same idiots think they have the moral authority to shit on us for preferring Japanese culture, or desiring to live in Japan. And what about their stereotypes of Native Americans from cowboy vs indian western films? How is this any different from those who rely on their information of Japanese culture from Anime? Obviously both are dumb. That’s not the point though. It seems as if the latter is somehow significantly worse than the former, when it’s the SAME. DAMN. THING. And no, using Native names for non-Native things or peoples who are descended from those who brought ruin to those of us who are, is not a compliment, “honoring their heritage”, and as someone of half Native American in addition to my half German side (actually, I could be considered three quarters native being part Eastern Shawnee, Quapaw, and Cherokee) I can readily vouch for this. Using racist terms like “Red Skins” for sports teams makes about as much sense as as using a Samurai mascot for a football team, and naming them something like “the California Japs.” It’s not a flattering thing, and shouldn’t be regarded as such. Also, I think I read somewhere either on this article or another on this site that “Anime was inspired by Wald Disney”, or something of that nature, yet in another article on this site it says “Manga has roots in Buddhist scrolls dating to the 12th Century. These scrolls had little political cartoons of animals making fun of nobles and clergy. These developed into ukiyo-e prints. These prints were made from wood engravings and allowed for faster production than scrolls made by hand.” So, which is it? There seems to be a lack of consistency here. :/ Maybe the writer was just trying to say that Anime and Manga artists simply liked certain features of “American” cartoons and employed them in their work, with it not necessarily being a “copy” of it, as much as an “evolution”, but the way it was worded came off as slightly implying this. Even if it were true that Japanese cartoons got their start from Americans, (which as quoted above and can be easily researched to be false) claiming that Japanese cartoons are a copy or somehow “owe everything they are” today to Americans, is mind numbingly stupid, and is the same as claiming that all modern airplanes are somehow “copies” of the Wright Flyer. Call that a Strawman comparison all you like, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Also, What the hell is even meant by the writers constant mention of “bounderies?” Personal space? National borders? Seperation of Church and State? WHAT EXACTLY!?! And while I’m hesitant to say that one culture could be considered superior to another, I will say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with liking one over another, or your own for that matter. It’s a matter of personal taste and opinion. Sure, If for example I were to move to Japan and take up Japanese citizenship renouncing my former, then Yes, I would indeed be Japanese. At least in a legal and politically loyal sense if nothing else. No, of course that doesn’t make me ethnically Japanese, but I’m perfectly happy with my current ethnic make up, and respect Japanese culture enough, so I really wouldn’t care, and I don’t see why anyone else should either. ;P End rant.

      • I agree with you about cultural insensitivity.

        Let me answer a few of your questions.

        Tezuka is considered the father of anime. He states his design for Atom pulled heavily from both Mighty Mouse and Mickey Mouse (Schodt, 2013). Manga pulls from Buddhist art and ukiyo-e. Anime combines manga’s art style with Disney’s animation techniques. Anime was born from Tezuka’s merging of American and Japanese art styles (Napier, 2005 ; Schodt, 2013). Anime doesn’t owe anything to America.

        Cultural products like manga and anime are not either-or propositions. They mix and combine elements from all over. English and Japanese pull words from other languages and each other, for example.

        By boundaries I mean personal boundaries: loud speaking, unwanted touching, and other attention grabbing behaviors.

        I agree it is okay to like another culture more than others. I wouldn’t write about Japanese culture if I didn’t like it more than American. But it is no means superior to American. They are simply different.

        Napier, S. (2005). Anime from Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation. Macmillian.

        Schodt, F. L. (2013). Designing a World. Mechademia, (1), 228.

  • I totally agree.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

  • Am I a weeaboo? I only like anime, but I don’t use Japanese terms in English sentences nor do I consider myself an Otaku. I also do not view the Japanese culture as superior to my own and my knowledge about the country is from history itself. I don’t consider myself Japanese either, I’m proud of my actual culture.

    • Hmmm. It sounds like you are not. The trick with weeaboos is how they violate social boundaries in ways that are often obnoxious. Liking anime doesn’t make a person a weeaboo. Neither does being an otaku for that matter.

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