The etymology of the word 'geek' is a fascinating little piece of history.
Though its origin largely stems from the German geck, which translates to ‘fool’ or ‘freak’, it has since shifted and evolved to become a more ubiquitous term. Nowadays, geek has become fairly interchangeable with nerd, and the two share many of the same stereotypes in the modern zeitgeist.
If you were to try to delineate the pair, however, it could be said that geeks are shown to be more obsessive, possessing a distinct passion for science, mathematics, the arts, pantsu, or whatever it may be. Their nuances may differ, but that devotion typically remains true.
Once upon a time, such tendencies were subject to ridicule and estrangement. But the times, my friends, they are a’changing, and in 2020, you can let your geek flag fly, embracing those little quirks and foibles that make you you.
Of course, there’s no better day to do this than today — Geek Pride Day!
To celebrate this event, the geeks at AnimeLab have assembled a list of some of our favourite otaku heroes for you to obsess over. And though they may be social inept or eccentric, they’ve all got amazing talents that make them stand out from the crowd.
Call them geeks, dweebs, nerds or dorks if you so choose. We’ll just call them awesome.
Keima Katsuragi | The World God Only Knows
I mean, we were kind of obligated to start with a character that performs the famous glasses push trope, didn’t we?
At a glance, you could conclude that Keima Katsuragi is standoffish, arrogant and rude. Spend some time with him, and you’ll learn that… all of that is true, actually.
He invests most of his time and energy into dating sims, and as such, has become a master of his craft. He has no time for petty things like actual relationships with — ugh! — real people. It isn’t until he’s contractually obligated to engage with girls outside of the video games he cherishes, that his crusty exterior begins to crack.
Unlikely as it may seem, he’s incredibly attentive and an excellent listener, and he has a real knack for knowing exactly how to help people with their problems. He’s borderline sweet, in fact, as long as you can see through the multiple layers of defence he has put up over the years.
Yutaka Itazu | Eden of the East
True geniuses realise that sometimes, in order for great things to happen, sacrifices must be made. Reclusive shut-in Yutaka Itazu shunned the outside world to dedicate himself to his craft, and in doing so, gave up not only his social life, but his pants, too!
Yutaka is a master hacker whose ambitions perhaps never lined up with his success, a relatable plight that many of us have felt on occasion. Once he has a goal in mind, he has the intelligence and resourceful nature to make it happen, proving a powerful ally in the fight against the enigmatic Mr. Outside.
He may seem gruff and aloof at first, but he’s got a heart of gold, as proven by his mission to help the NEETs (those deemed “not in education, employment or training”) in need. Sure, a lot of that probably has to do with the fact that he’s a longtime NEET himself, but whatever his motive, it’s a noble cause all the same.
His hobbies include computers, baseball and close inspections of automobiles.
Rika Shiguma | Haganai
One of the benchmarks of a prototypical geek is an awkward inability to connect with others, leading many to believe that geeks are always introverted.
At times, Rika Shiguma is definitely not an introvert. In fact, this perverted underclassman can be completely shameless, keenly reeling off her latest fantasies no matter how depraved or inappropriate they may be.
She qualifies more as an ambivert, a mix of the two personality traits and a word I totally only just learnt in the middle of the preceding paragraph.
Rika is a brilliant adventure who spends much of her time in the safety of her lab (safety being a relative term, as her experiments tend to backfire), but once she has locked onto the target of her affection, she will stop at nothing to pursue them.
Being so oblivious has its drawbacks, yet despite this, you can’t fault her determination. It goes without saying that her antics are NSFW, and sometimes even NSFYRUYSNEIW — not safe for your room unless you’re sure nobody else is watching.
Renge Houshakuji | Ouran High School Host Club
Ouran High School Host Club may be an anime centred around beautiful boys, but for this list, we’re going to focus on one of the ladies, instead. Don’t worry, bishounen fans, your day will come.
Renge Houshakuji is another dating sim aficionado, and heads straight for Japan to meet Ouran Host Club’s director, Kyoya Ootori, simply because he resembles her favourite character. Such courage! Such whimsy! Such expendable income!
She immediately appoints herself the club’s manager, and sets about shaping the boys to match her ideal vision. Beyond her sweet disposition, she proves to be shrewd, ambitious and utterly terrifying.
She’s also a cosplayer (albeit not a very good one), adding further to her status as the ultimate otaku. Oh, and when she’s mad, her hair turns into a nest of hissing snakes. See? Terrifying.
If you can’t see yourself relating to such a character, you need only consider why she joined up with the club to begin with; in the pursuit of true love. Renge is a hopeless romantic, and we can’t help but cheer for her in her quest to find the perfect man.
Rikka Takanashi | Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions
In the awkward transition from childhood to becoming an adult, there are several directions you could go in. Maybe you’ll flourish into a mature, distinguished scholar, or instead, you’ll maintain the innocence of your youth. Perhaps the true destiny lies somewhere in between?
As for Rikka Takanashi, she just straight up decided she was an ethereal being with mythical powers. Also a good option, to be honest — stick that one on the resume!
All of the geeks we’ve looked at today have been underdog heroes, in their own unique ways, but only one takes that distinction literally. Whether she’s fighting the imaginary tyrants of the wicked bureau hounding her every move, or just struggling to fit into a rigid society, she’s tireless. She zigs where others zag, and there’s something truly admirable about that.
Just… don’t look into the eye. It’s a commitment you may not be ready for.
Of course, there are more geeks out there than you could shake a technologically enhanced pole at, and you can find them all here at AnimeLab: the home base for geeks, jocks, social butterflies, loners, dignitaries, NEETs or whatever else you may be!