Do you wanna be a Weeaboo?

Anime Central, the Midwest’s largest Anime Convention, is coming this weekend and I am unbelievably excited to attend. This is my third year and as a “Con veteran”, I have learned what is considered appropriate “Con” etiquette. How you dress around and how you speak with other anime fans will portray your social capital within the anime community.


weeaboo_chan_by_tachola-d5pe2l8(Thank you tachola.deviantart.com)

This is not good for social capital. This is a Weeaboo, an obnoxious anime fan who is constantly expressing their love of all things anime (and may not actually know much) and attempting to code switch by excessively using Japanese words. This is not seen as an acceptable practice and a Weeaboo is often the butt of a joke.

This concept reminds me of Bourdieu’s work. He looked at social fields, wanting to know how society decided what was appropriate behavior and what was not. So at an anime convention with a great deal of the anime being Japanese-based, using “kawaii” or “-san” jokingly or using the term because no other term suffices would be considered okay, but using it all of the time becomes unacceptable. “We all know you’re not Japanese, so stop pretending you are.” It’s offensive, really. There’s a line.

There is social capital present, another concept of Bourdieu. The best cosplayers and veteran con-goers have the best social capital, with Weeaboos at the opposite of the spectrum. The cosplayers who are known by name have major social capital and people will “follow” their work on social media. Some fans will travel from afar to see them in person. There is a balance between what is considered awesome and what is overdoing it. This, of course, could definitely create social inequalities and creates differences in social power. It could change what is acceptable Con behavior and what is not! The whole social field surrounding anime conventions could change!

Maybe the Weeaboos will overrun the Con world and become the norm. The concept and definition of a Weeaboo could change and it quite possibly could in the future. The term “otaku”, for example has changed. In its truest form, it means to describe a “creepy guy who lives in his mom’s basement”. However, in the current anime world, “otaku” is used to describe someone who is inside all day because they’re watching anime. At anime conventions, it is okay to be an “otaku”. So maybe the Weeaboo thing will eventually change and that term will be used as something that is considered good, and because social fields and social capital are not physical entities, their fluidity is totally possible. Every year Anime Central does change. Every year Anime Central has new anime fans and cosplayers of new anime that came out within the last year. What is acceptable Con etiquette could easily change.

Weeaboo is the new black?



4 thoughts on “Do you wanna be a Weeaboo?

    • briennekelly says:

      Probably not, because the social stigma against Weeaboos is prominent among any sub-culture of “otakus”.

  1. Holly B. says:

    To start off, I’m super jealous! (I want to go!) I really like your comparison here. I think this type of thing can be seen in a lot of different areas. What is acceptable in society and what isn’t acceptable has drastically changed over the years. I feel like being a “nerd” has changed. Nerds used to be kind of the social outcasts, now nerds can be “cool” and it is totally acceptable to consider yourself a nerd. It would be interesting to observe whether or not being a “weeaboo” changes in how it is viewed by others over time.

  2. This relates very well to Goffman’s presentation of self. If you want to be considered a true anime fan at the con you have to act the part. you have to be knowledgeable about the genera without coming off as a know it all. It seems to me that a weeboo is someone who has not learned the proper presentation of self to assimilate into the norm. I disagree that a weeboo can not change their status. All they have to do is learn and perform the proper con etiquette. If they do this their presentation of self will make them be perceived as the norm.

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