You may have heard of otaku before, the type of person in Japan who’s obsessed with anime, manga, and video games. They are so consumed by their hobbies that they buy up all the memorabilia they can.
Begs the question, how do otaku even make money? Otaku make money through regular jobs, just like everyone else. Otaku often take full-time or part-time jobs to sustain their hobbies and some can even turn their hobby into their profession. There’s no secret sauce to being a wealthy otaku, it’s much the same as anyone else.
There are some otaku who do not work at all, choosing to shut themselves away from the world. They are known as hikikomori and usually survive off an allowance from their parents.
While many hikikomori choose to never leave their homes, some have found ways to monetize their situation.
So how do hikikomori make money? Hikikomori make money by working online. Hikikomori sell their wares on eBay and Etsy, they do freelance programming or graphic design, they trade stocks or play the foreign exchange market, and so on. Hikikomori usually work part-time, but they don’t go out and mix with others.
Because of their intense passion for their hobbies, otaku can find themselves well-positioned to make money through their hobby. Although many otakus choose to work just enough at low-income part time jobs, to allow for more time to spend on their hobbies.
What Kind of Work Do Otaku Do?
There are a variety of different jobs an otaku might undertake. Although otaku have a reputation for being antisocial, that’s not necessarily the case. Many otakus will undertake normal jobs to help pay for their hobby.
This could include full or part-time work in low skill places like lawsons or yoshinoyas. Part-time work is very common in Japan, and finding work is not usually that difficult. So many otakus work regular jobs that you would expect many normal citizens to.
If the otaku happens to be anti-social, perhaps due to poor mental health, they may look for remote working opportunities. Particularly for otaku who are fans of technology, opportunities in IT are quite common for working from home. Things like coding, developing, or remote customer service opportunities are perfect for otaku who want to stay indoors.
Many otakus are driven through life by their desire for their hobby. In fact, there is some otaku who would choose their obsession over love! However, as often their obsession requires money to spend, otaku will end up joining the workforce.
It’s a misconception that all otaku spend lavish amounts of money. In reality, a lot of otakus will live within their means, only spending a few hundred dollars a year to fuel their hobby. It’s something that really depends on the hobby and the individual.
How Can Otaku Make Money Off Their Hobby?
There are loads of ways to make money off of their hobby, no matter what that it is. Although some types of otaku exist in better niches than others, there is earning potential for them all.
One way that all otaku can make money is to create a blog about the thing they are interested in. This is a good idea for any kind of otaku, from automobile otaku to idol otaku. It’s a great way to put your knowledge to use and monetize it.
By making a blog, you will be able to sell advertising space and make money from the people that visit your site. Websites do well when they are aimed at a specific audience, so an anime fan could make a website about One Punch Man and make money from that.
Alongside ad space, an otaku can try their hand at affiliate marketing. For example, if the anime otaku was writing about One Punch Man, they could link to the Amazon DVD sales page and make a small commission if someone makes a purchase.
Otaku with a creative flair could make designs and sell items on online marketplaces. These designs are often inspired by the thing they are interested in and can bring in a source of income.
Those with a knack for social media could create fan pages on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. With a sufficient audience number, the otaku would be able to secure brand deals to promote items for a fee.
These might be attractive options for otaku as they will be able to spend more of their day with the thing they love. It can be an uphill battle to start making money this way, but it’s certainly doable and many otakus make a living this way.
What About Otaku Who Don’t Work?
When you think of otaku you might be picturing someone who doesn’t wash or ever leave their small apartment. This is an unfair characterization of otaku but it is quite a common misrepresentation.
There are around 700,000 young adults who are NEET, which stands for Not Engaged in Education, Employment or Training. Many of whom could be an otaku, but they aren’t necessarily inclusive of each other. Of the 700,000 NEETs, there are some who have become anti-social shut-ins and they are known as “hikikomori.”
Hikikomori is a growing problem in Japan, particularly among young men. They are individuals who have either wilfully or through inaction turned away from society. They live in small one-room flats and don’t leave, sometimes up to decades.
Many hikikomori are otaku, with their obsession being the most important thing in their lives. This is very extreme and otaku hikikomori will go hungry to be able to afford their hobby. At times they will even let their rent go overdue or allow their bills to fall into arrears.
Hikikomori is usually supported by their parents. Some come from well off families where their lifestyle can be kept afloat. For others, their parents keep working to send them money, out of guilt that their kid is a NEET.
Some people blame the parents for enabling this kind of lifestyle, but for the parents, the reality is it would be worse not to support them.
Do People Stop Being Otaku?
Of course, people grow out of things all the time. Although there’s no real guideline for this sort of thing, it just happens when it happens.
Most otakus tend to be younger in age, the most prominent age group is people in their 20s, closely followed by teenagers and preteens. At this age, your hobby can become all-encompassing whether that’s anime, video games, or trains.
It’s also more likely that a younger person will be more willing to refer to themselves as otaku. With older people being embarrassed by the term. However, there will be otaku still obsessed with their hobbies well into later life.
Usually, as people get older, they get more invested in their work, or they start families. This means that there is likely less time to dedicate to anime, or manga, or whatever it is they like. Eventually, these things just fade away, much like how I don’t collect Pokémon cards anymore.
There many different types of otaku, ranging from those who are regular functioning members of society, to those hikikomori who haven’t left their room for years. What they do for work is ultimately down to the individual, whether they work full time, part-time, remotely, or not at all.
Otaku may just be a short-lived phase for some people, whereas for others it will be all-consuming for a long time. What they are interested in also varies, it’s not just people who enjoy anime, manga, or videos. It’s people that have an obsessive fascination with anything, including audio-visual equipment, fashion, mobile IT equipment, and many more.
One thing for sure, otaku are incredibly passionate about their hobbies. They enjoy spending their money to collect things associated and contribute massive amounts of money to the economy, the manga otaku community contributes ¥83 billion annually alone!