Am I a Weeaboo? Signs You Might Be a Weeaboo
"Weeaboo" (pronounced we-ah-boo with emphasis on the first syllable) is a common slang term on the internet. It also sees a lot of use in anime, manga, and video game communities both online and offline. If you've been to an anime convention, video game expo, or other nerd fandom event, or if you spend a lot of time in geek communities online, you've probably heard it used and also come into contact with the people it describes.
But what does it mean, and what characteristics and behavior does it refer to, in particular?
Calling Someone a Weeaboo
Before we get into explanations and descriptions, it's important to understand that "weeaboo" is a derogatory term. If someone calls you a weeaboo, that person is not being nice. If you call another person a weeaboo, don't be surprised if they get angry or take offense. Just like any other insult, don't go casually throwing this word around or you risk making a lot of people mad.
So, What IS a Weeaboo?
In nerd and fandom communities, "weeaboo" is synonymous with "wapanese." Both terms can be used for males or females and are negative descriptors for non-Japanese people (usually, but not exclusively, Caucasians) obsessed with Japanese culture. But what could possibly be bad about cultural appreciation?
Simply expressing a love for Japan and Japanese culture do not make you a weeaboo. The term does not refer to people like Japanese Studies majors, Japanese language students, Japanese history buffs, and other enthusiasts. Rather it connotes a belief in the superiority of Japanese culture above all others combined with a relative ignorance of Japanese culture outside of a particular fandom.
For example, an anime fan who has never learned to speak Japanese, studied Japanese history or literature, or even been to Japan, but who asserts that Japan has the world's most superior culture because of their cartoons is a weeaboo.
I Think I'm Turning Japanese, I Think I'm Turning Japanese... Maybe Not
"Weeaboo" can also refer to a person who wishes she was Japanese and tries to dress and act in ways that make her seem more "Asian" (when such efforts usually just make her seem culturally insensitive and ignorant in reality).
For this reason, non-Asian cosplayers, gothic lolitas, mori girls, and other followers of Japanese fashion trends are sometimes labeled "weeaboos," often unfairly.
Are All Anime, Manga, and Video Game Nerds Weeaboos?
Some fans of Japanese media are weeaboos, but most are not, so using it as a blanket term for Japan-based fandom is insensitive and inaccurate.
The vast majority of anime and manga fans, Japanese video game enthusiasts, gothic lolitas, cosplayers, visual kei fans, and other "Japan nerds" just want to enjoy their hobbies. Most don't consider themselves experts in Japanese culture simply because they enjoy a single niche aspect of it (and certainly don't wish they were Japanese or consider their own culture inferior).
Many also make an effort to become truly educated about Japanese culture, history, and customs out of curiosity, enthusiasm, and a desire to learn. Weeaboos do the opposite. They already consider themselves experts and therefore make no effort to achieve an educated, accurate understanding of Japanese society and culture.
Give Japan nerds the benefit of the doubt. No matter how they choose to dress crazy or get psyched over strange hobbies, they aren't necessarily weeaboos. Someone should only be considered a weeaboo after he/she has repeatedly demonstrated ignorance and shown no desire to learn.
Weeaboo Characteristics and How to Spot a Weeaboo
That said, here are a few warning signs to look out for that indicate someone might be a weeaboo:
- Inserting Japanese words and phrases like "kawaii" or "desu" into everyday conversation incorrectly or excessively (or both).
- Loving things simply because they are Japanese, not because they are actually good.
- Owning a collection of fake replica samurai swords made in China.
- Constantly talking about wanting a Japanese boyfriend or girlfriend, despite not knowing any Asian people.
- Correcting you about Japanese culture... and being wrong.
- Dreaming of moving to Japan... and not taking any Japanese language classes or doing any sort of practical preparation.
- Thinking Japan "understands" them because of its cartoons, comics, or video games.
- Putting down other cultures, including their own.
- Asking for chopsticks at non-Asian restaurants. Then using them incorrectly.
- Buying overpriced imported Japanese media they can't even read.
- Making the two-fingered anime girl pose in every photograph.
- Being bored by actual Japanese literature, art, and history.