Anime and manga are more than just the latest edition of JUMP or the new and exciting episode of Attack on Titan. Like all art forms, its popularity has created a whole sub-culture. One that allows passionate fans to immerse themselves in the thing that they love, while providing like-minded individuals an opportunity to interact. Despite the negative stereotype associated with the term “otaku”; at its heart, it is about socializing and bringing people together.
So, it is no surprise that many artists have created shows and characters that adhere to this lifestyle. After all, who has more passion than a mangaka who is willing to risk starvation for their work? Today, we'll be looking at some of the best female otaku characters that have graced our TV or computer screen.
10. Risa Aoi from Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There! (Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri)
Although there is quite an overabundance of action anime, it is rare to see an otaku character in a non-comedy oriented one. Often, it feels as if these shows exist in a universe where the whole anime/manga subculture does not exist. Honestly, it does kind of make sense. Where would an otaku fit in a serious story about demons attempting to take over the world? No, a Goku would be needed for something like that.
Obviously, A-1 Pictures' GATE thought differently. Not only is the male lead an ass-kicking otaku, but his ex-wife, Risa, might be one of the most grounded portrayals of a doujinshi artist in recent history. Her introductory scene tells us all we need to know: alone at home, she slaves away on her latest manga, while wondering if she will ever eat again.
With a massive yaoi collection, Risa lives and breathes the subculture. She has carved out a career creating stories tailor-made for a feminine audience. Despite being a published artist, she is nearly always broke and begging for table scraps. Even in those rare moments when some extra cash does fall her way, the allure of a new release nearly always wins over the growls of her stomach. A diet of soy milk and cereal might not be healthy, but it is hard to not admire her dedication and passion.
9. Sensei from Denki-gai no Honya-san
All the characters in Denki-gai are living the dream: to actually work at a comic store. Just imagine, being surrounded by manga every single day of the week. It is no wonder that Sensei has aspirations to become a top mangaka! Who would not dream of greatness if surrounded 24/7 by their point of inspiration?
Publishing under the pen name of Jona Taro, Sensei already has a few successes under her belt. Still, it is far from enough, as her goal is to surpass a master mangaka and reach the pinnacle of her profession. This obviously takes a lot of time and effort, as she often has to stay up all through the night to finish. Thankfully, Sensei can always catch a quick nap while on the clock. Sensei is prone to panic attacks, especially in high pressure moments. Despite this frailty, she continues to plug away at her manga, overcoming the cold sweats triggered by the fear of missing a deadline.
8. Nyaruko from Nyaruko: Crawling With Love! (Haiyore! Nyaruko-san)
Part of the Space Defense Agency, Nyaruko is an alien that is sent to Earth to protect Mahiro Yasaka; who carries the genes of a great warrior. Nyaruko is highly intelligent, graduating top of her class from one of the best extraterrestrial universities. She is also a capable fighter, one who is capable of protecting Mahiro from any potential alien threat.
Despite having such a huge task on her plate, Nyaruko finds time to indulge in her favorite hobby: gaming. This is not something that she just picked up on Earth either, as our entertainment is well known throughout the galaxy. As she is quite rich herself, she can afford to buy all the otaku products she desires. Her obsession with the culture fits the show perfectly, as Haiyore! Nyaruko-san is filled with one pop culture reference after another.
7. Arisa Ahokainen from Akiba's Trip – The Animation
Cosplay is a very important element of the subculture. Dressed up as iconic characters, fans attend massive conventions, with the knowledge that they'll be surrounded by people who will actually get the reference! Akiba's Trip (both the anime and game) is a huge love letter to these events, with Arisa being the most obvious example.
Originally from Finland, Arisa traveled half the world to Akihabara; as she could only be satisfied if completely engrossed within the anime culture. As with any otaku worth their salt, she meets the protagonist while shopping for an expensive figurine to add to her collection. Arisa is a huge cosplayer, one who does not hesitate to show it to the rest of the world.
As strength seems to be tied to how dedicated the characters are to the lifestyle, Arisa is practically superhuman. The strongest of the three main characters, she is a martial arts prodigy and should be feared.
6. Gabriel from Gabriel Dropout
A hikikomori is the evolved version of an otaku; when someone trips over that thin line between fandom and obsession. Although the media might portray them as the same thing, they could not be further apart. A hikikomori withdraws from society, using video games or anime as a means of an escape. On the other-hand, one of the greatest joys of being an otaku is socializing with the larger community.
Gabriel is an angel that has recently graduated top of her class. As one of her final assignments before becoming a fully qualified messenger of God, she needs to spend some time living with, and learning about, humans. Although all signs suggest that Gabriel would breeze through, she ends up obsessed with video games and, eventually, becomes a hikikomori.
The contrast between the kind angel Gabriel used to be, and the bossy slob she has become is amusing, and leads to a lot of hilarious interactions with other Earth-bound supernatural beings. Since Doga Kobo's series reverses the personalities of angels and demons, Gabriel's is constantly threatening to eradicate humanity as an overreaction to an embarrassing situation like her panties being seen.
5. Kae Serinuma from Kiss Him, Not Me! (Watashi ga Motete Dousunda)
An unapologetic fujoshi, Kae is the central protagonist of “Kiss Him, Not Me”; a recent slice of life series about one girl's obsession with anime and manga that include a central theme of man love. Despite being a generally easy going person, who never frets about the little details, a fire is quickly ignited whenever she is reminded of her passion.
After one of her favorite characters dies, Kae locks herself away for an entire week; refusing to even eat. This leads to her losing a decent amount of weight and transforming into a pretty attractive protagonist. Eventually, her new look attracts the attention of a few potential suitors at her school. Despite her adoration for romantic encounters, she is a klutz when it comes to her own love-life, and gets easily flustered when talking to boys her age.
4. Kirino Kousaka from My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute (Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai)
Idolized by her peers, loved by her teachers, and worshiped as a model, Kirino Kousaka is the perfect girl. One day, her completely ordinary brother, Kyousuke, stumbles into her room and discovers a rather shocking item. One that changes his whole perception of Kirino and the dynamic of their relationship. Within the darkest corners of her personal castle lies a brother and sister hentai game! Scratch that, multiple games. One could even say a collection!
OREIMO is a clever reversal of a common trope seen in slice of life comedies dealing with the anime/manga subculture. Often, it would be the unpopular guy who drags his perfect sibling or girlfriend into the world of the otaku. A series like Genshinken perfected this story arc, and many have tried to recreate that magic. In this case, Kirino is the one that introduces her brother to the enticing universe of adult games; delivering a needed breath of fresh air to the genre.
Kirino is a delight to watch, especially as the series progresses and her relationship with Kyousuke becomes less toxic. The writers do a fantastic job of creating a relatable teenager, who is struggling to understand her sexuality. Kirino is not only desperate to keep this side of herself hidden because it could hurt her social standing, but, more importantly, she still does not understand why she is experiencing these emotions. Why does she enjoy eroge games or shows like Stardust Witch Meruru?
3. Erika Karisawa from Durarara!!
In a series filled with quirky characters, a proud otaku with a knack for torture seems almost mundane. Part of the online gang known as the Dollars, Erika can nearly always be seen traveling with Walker Yumasaki, Saburo Togusa, and Kyouhei Kadota. Always loudly referencing her favorite franchises, she is an avid anime and manga fan, and can often be seen browsing a recently released comic.
As Walker is also a massive otaku, the two have formed an unbreakable friendship. Their history is not really expanded upon all that often, although their unflinching acceptance of violence and the way they mercilessly conduct their interrogations, suggests a criminal past. Mixing work and pleasure, they often base their torture sessions around an anime topic, chosen by the victim. Fun for the whole family.
2. Shiro from No Game, No Life
Although there are many shows that romanticize the otaku life-style, none quite pull it off with as much grandiosity and marvel as No Game, No Life. Forming the unbeatable gaming duo known as “Blank”, neet step-siblings Sora and Shiro are whisked away from our reality to Imanity; a fantastical universe governed by gaming rules.
Complimenting her step brother's manipulative nature, Shiro is the calm and logical half of the duo. Rarely showing any emotion, this eleven-year-old girl is a master tactician, and is undefeated in chess. Her intellect is not only confined to the gaming board, as she speaks 18 different languages and masters Imanity's dialect within 15 minutes.
Shiro might seem innocent at first, but beneath that stoic demeanor lies a rather sadistic sense of humor and the will to reduce her enemies to pulp. This side of her is often kept hidden, but when she does cut loose, it is pretty amazing. Her only weakness lies in her inability to handle human emotions, making her constantly dependent on Sora in social situations.
Shiro is the Super Saiyan God version of the typical otaku character. One that uses what others might have seen as a limitation to reach heights only a select few would even dare to dream of.
1. Umaru Doma from Himouto! Umaru-chan
Honestly, who else could it be? No other recent character exemplifies the otaku quite like Umaru. To be precise, no other show uses and parodies the associated stereotype as efficiently as Himouto! Umaru-chan.
Umaru has two personalities: outdoor and indoor. The former is the typical angelic schoolgirl: polite, attractive and friendly. She is the type of teenager that could easily be an idol.
More importantly for this list, her indoor version is a lazy blob who spends all of her time soaking in the otaku culture. A rude slob, who barely helps around the house, she can always be found reading a manga, watching an anime, or obsessing over her collection of stuffed cat dolls. Also a feared gamer, Umaru takes on an entirely new persona, who occasionally shows up at the local arcade to crush some dreams.
Umaru is such a huge otaku, that her appearance even changes: transforming from the typical schoolgirl into a chibi version of herself. Throughout the series, it is made clear that her indoor personality is her true self, while that perfect persona is only a facade.
This brings an end to our top 10 list for this time. Classic series like Lucky Star and Genshiken successfully introduced female otaku characters to a more mainstream audience, paving a way to the boom we have seen over the last few years. Since we cannot help but love characters that mirror our own passions, hopefully this trend continues to grow indefinitely.
Who is your favourite female otaku character? Is there someone missing who could even put Umaru to shame? If so, please let us know in the comment section below.