The American Anime Fan Lexicon - “Weeaboo” | アニメ!アニメ!

The American Anime Fan Lexicon - “Weeaboo”

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"Letters from the New York Otaku"

By David Cabrera


#26 - The American Anime Fan Lexicon - “Weeaboo”

A friend of mine doesn't like to talk about it, but he singlehandedly put the word “weeaboo” into regular usage among American anime fans.

Years ago, on 4chan (the American version of Futaba Channel) a piece of Internet terminology was being run into the ground. The word: “Wapanese”. A combination of “wannabe” and “Japanese”, for anime/manga fans or gamers who truly wanted to become Japanese because of the Japanese things they were fascinated with. The word was your easy insult when anybody showed some irrational love for Japan in a conversation.

“I can't believe you people listen to that American pop trash! If you want to hear some real music, put that crap down and listen to some Hello! Project.”
“Oh, shut up, you Wapanese.”

Now on the Internet, everyone is trying to look more cool and less emotionally attached, and they're trying to one-up each other. So the use of “Wapanese” got more ridiculous.

First people started to use it if Japanese stuff even came up in a discussion.

“You know, I was watching Cowboy Bebop, and...”
“Oh, shut up, you Wapanese.”

Then it started to just be about anything.

“I guess Halo's just not my style of game...”
“Oh, shut up, you Wapanese.”

My friend moderated 4chan in these days, and the word was so overused that he decided to take action. He would destroy the word “Wapanese.” Moderators could set up word filters on the site that would change any word users typed to a word of your choice. The filter he set up was simple.

“Wapanese” became “Weeaboo”.

“Weeaboo” was a nonsense word used once in an online gag comic (The Perry Bible Fellowship) which we all enjoyed. My friend thought that if he just replaced the word “Wapanese” with something meaningless, that it would fall out of use by necessity. That's not what happened.

What happened was that “Wapanese” truly did become “Weeaboo.” People liked the sound of the word, and they used it as an insult the way they had used “Wapanese” in the past. Almost immediately, people stopped typing in “Wapanese” and started typing in “Weeaboo”. The replacement was complete. The new word was much more popular than the old word.

“I love Inuyasha, and one day I'm going to move to Japan and become a famous mangaka!”
“Oh, shut up, you weeaboo.”

These days the word has passed into common anime fan usage. You'll probably overhear it walking through the average anime convention, or comic shop, or even the manga aisle at the local bookstore.

“I like anime, don't get me wrong, but I'm not a weeaboo.”

Among American otaku, the “Wapanese” or the “weeaboo” changed a little bit. The wordcame to stand for the kind of obnoxious fan that everybody's trying to avoid being. The Tumblr blog “Weeaboo Stories” (weeaboo-stories.tumblr.com) is an archive of tales of encounters with overzealous, aggressive, or just plain scary American otaku. They might be true, they might be false, but they're usually so plausible that they're frightening. Every American anime/manga fan has one of these stories. I have several. But let's not tell all those stories today. See you next time.
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