Here in America, Otaku has two meanings. The first is a "badge of honor" positive happy title for a anime fan. Used like : "OMG I'm such an otaku!!!!! I watch 50 episodes a week!". Cartoon network and shonen jump create many of these fans. Those people annoy me but are generally harmless and a lot are good people on the inside. Hereby referred to as oteiku because a lot of them simply can't pronounce otaku.
The other meaning is closer to the Japanese one : a nerdy introverted person who spends a lot on thier interests and likely has encyclopedic knowledge on thier favorite fandoms. Often having to try to explain their purchases to confused non-otaku friends and learns to keep quiet around non-otaku because explaining gets old. Stereotyped as socially-inept and a failure in life (not true in many many cases!) and close to the virgin DnD comic book nerd of American lore. The book/film Densha Otoko shows this well. Commonly but not exclusively used for anime fandoms. You can be a military otaku or a train otaku or any type of otaku your passion leads you to. Not a badge of honor: a fairly negative term.
For the sake of this blog I'll note Akiba-kei, Akihabara-type. A subset of otaku that hang around in Akihabara and like anime/games/etc. I prefer the term Akiba-kei when describing myself because it is more specific, less negative, and avoids possibility of confusion with oteiku.
THE MAIN POINT
I went to Book Off with Aki and I got the Saikano Live Action Ultimate Edition DVD. It will probably suck but I can't buy the standard edition for Saikano. I love it. Brilliant series. Aki bought a Junjo Romantica Boy's Love artbook (18+; Nice art ^_^). Then we went to Yoshinoya because it was a) right behind bookoff b)cheap c)not a burger. Aki takes the artbook inside and is paging through it while I order food. She's talking to me about the art when a lady employee walks behind our cashier:
Lady Employee : "Oh! Otaku! Shes a Japanese Otaku!"
Cashier: "Oh they're otaku. You're an otaku aren't you??"
We just kinda freeze at this point. They continue giggling or whatever (its hazy)
Me: " Uh... Yeah I'm an otaku... ^^;" *tries to laugh along and holds up Haruhi wallet* "Here's the money."
*gets change and sit down*
Yeaaaah.... the staff up right up laughed at us. For an artbook. An no it wasn't a "hey you like that stuff too?" kind of thing. I've gotten that at bookoff and its very different (and nice to see other eroge fans! :D). This was more of a "lets make fun of the stupid people" thing. Right to our faces, not in the breakroom later, but "oh they won't mind! if we talk about them while they try to buy lunch!". I don't think I've ever gotten worse customer service anywhere. I've been treated with more respect when getting lunch in cosplay.
But its Yoshinoya so I'll go back XP
UPDATE: Email customer service is gonna open a cup of whoop ass. After this post, I just forwarded it to them and said I like beef bowl. XD (cause its so good!)
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