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The subculture's birth coincided with the anime boom, after the release of works such as Mobile Suit Gundam before it branched into Comic Market.
The definition of otaku subsequently became more complex, and numerous classifications of otaku emerged.
Otaku subculture is a central theme of various anime and manga works, documentaries and academic research.
The subculture began in the 1980s as changing social mentalities and the nurturing of otaku traits by Japanese schools combined with the resignation of such individuals to become social outcasts.
The usage of the word is a source of contention among some fans, owing to its negative connotations and stereotyping of the fandom.
Widespread English exposure to the term came in 1988 with the release of Gunbuster, which referred to anime fans as otaku.
Another claim for the origin of the term comes from the works of science fiction author Motoko Arai, who used the word in her novels as a second-person pronoun and the readers adopted the term for themselves.
Later that year, the contemporary knowledge magazine Bessatsu Takarajima dedicated its 104th issue to the topic of otaku.
It was called Otaku no Hon The word entered English as a loanword from the Japanese language.
In 2005, the Nomura Research Institute divided otaku into twelve groups and estimated the size and market impact of each of these groups.
Other institutions have split it further or focus on a single otaku interest.
Animators Haruhiko Mikimoto and Shōji Kawamori had used the term between themselves as an honorific second-person pronoun since the late 1970s.