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Weeaboo (a.k.a Wapanese) is an English slang used to describe a person (typically of non-Asian descent) who prefers Japan and all things in Japanese over one’s indigenous culture. The term is a successive mutation of “Wapanese,” a derogatory slur referring to western Japanophiles with a strong bias towards Japanese cultural and tech imports.
The antecedent word “Wapanese” (as in Wannabe Japanese) was most likely introduced in the early 2000s, with the earliest instance on Google search dating back to the Racial Slur Database from June 30, 2002.
Wapanese: a slur used to describe a white person who is obssesed with japanese culture. This would include manga/hentai/and anime.
- The Racial Slur Database, 2002
From late 2003 and onwards, usage of Wapanese became alarmingly visible on 4chan, often leading to unpleasant exchanges between anime/manga fans and those who were far less interested in their subcultures.
At the peak of its abuse in mid-2005, 4chan moderators devised a creative intervention using the word-filter, replacing every instance of Wapanese with “Weeaboo,” which was a fictitious term originally coined by Nicholas Gurewitch in his Perry Bible Fellowship comic strip (date unknown, comic #62):
In its original context, the word “weeaboo” doesn’t signify anything but something undesirable and deserving punishment. Since then, many 4chan visitors adopted the word “Weeaboo” in replacement of Wapanese.
Usage of “Weeaboo” eventually grew far beyond the Anon community and as a result, its original meaning has been distorted and diluted, with its nuance and reception slightly varying from one community to another.
Stereotypes of “Weeaboo”
There are numerous online discussions and referential sources discussing the stereotypes and traits of “Weeaboo”; some of the most notable observational jokes include:
- Excessive use of Japanese words in replacement of English
- Favoritism of Japanese imports over domestic equivalents
- Hanging out in the international aisle of the supermarket
- Crowding the manga section of your local book store
- Seeking Japanese partners only in Personals on Craigslist
- Ability to memorize and recite Anime opening theme songs
As seen in a 2006 thread regarding Pocky, “the staple food of Weeaboos”:
But with recent influx of J-culture in the mainstream US and other countries, a stricter definition may be necessary to understand the essence of Weeaboo:
Relations to Otaku-dom
Establishing distinctions between “Otaku” and “Weeaboo” can be kinda confusing, as both subcultures subscribe to a common set of interests (ex: anime/manga/robots/cosplay) and share the social stigma of nurturing “unhealthy hobbyisms.” According to referential sources and UD entries:
Otaku: a mildly derogatory slang used in Japan and other Asian cultures to describe anyone who has a devotion to a specific subject or hobby (not necessarily anime) to the point of never leaving home. also see: Hikikomori.
Weeaboos: an internet slang used in English-speaking regions to describe a Gaijin (foreigner in Japanese) displaying a heavy bias towards everything from Japan or virtually exiling oneself from the indigenous culture (also known as “outside”) in pursuit of the “superlative.”
For more information, check out our entry on Otaku in the MemeDb.