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The modern slang form, which is distinguished from the older usage by being written only in hiragana (おたく), katakana (オタク or, less frequently, ヲタク) or rarely in rōmaji, first appeared in public discourse in the 1980s, through the work of humorist and essayist Akio Nakamori.His 1983 series An Investigation of "Otaku" , printed in the lolicon magazine Manga Burikko, applied the term to unpleasant fans in caricature.Positive and negative aspects, including the pejorative usage, were intermixed.
According to studies published in 2013, the term has become less negative, and an increasing number of people now self-identify as otaku.
These works allowed a congregation and development of obsessive interests that turned anime into a medium for unpopular students, catering to obsessed fans.
After these fans discovered Comic Market, the term was used as a self-confirming and self-mocking collective identity.
Animators Haruhiko Mikimoto and Shōji Kawamori had used the term between themselves as an honorific second-person pronoun since the late 1970s.
Supposedly, some fans used it past the point in their relationships where others would have moved on to a less formal style.Those unable to succeed socially focused instead on their interests, often into adulthood, with their lifestyle centering on those interests, furthering the creation of the otaku subculture.