The impact and legacy of Otaku no Video

The first American screening of Otaku no Video

The first public screening of Otaku no Video may have been held at AnimeCon '91 in San Jose, California. AnimeCon was the fourth anime convention in the United States, and the first to receive major anime industry backing. The event was co-sponsored by Gainax.

According to a post-convention Usenet post by Noel Gamboa, Otaku no Video was shown on 16mm film to an audience of nine people in one of the convention's video rooms on September 1, 1991. The 3:30am showing preceded the official release date of Otaku no Video by almost four weeks.

Gamboa’s Operation X fansub group later subtitled and distributed Otaku no Video before AnimEigo’s official acquisition and release.

Otaku no Video and Otakon

Otakon is one of the largest and longest-running anime conventions in the United States. The Baltimore-based event, which saw 350 attendees in 1994, would grow to attract 33,929 people in 2014. Its reference to otaku is obvious, and its tagline, “Convention of Otaku Generation,” is a clear reference to Otaku no Video, whose tagline is “Graffiti of Otaku Generation.” It is an annual tradition that Otaku no Video 1982 is shown in a video room at the start of the convention, and Zoku Otaku no Video 1985 is shown at the end of the convention.

The spread of the word 'otaku' in America

An examination of English-language Usenet posts from the early 1990s shows that the term “otaku” was relatively unused prior to 1993. After the release of Otaku no Video, the term “otaku” exploded in popularity. Takeda Yasuhiro wrote in 2002, “In the US, this OVA [Otaku no Video] is widely regarded as the otaku bible.”

While it may not be a part of the mainstream lexicon, the term “otaku” is well-known and frequently used among American anime fans, as well as fans in other western countries. The spread of the word “otaku” among English speakers also coincided with the drastic growth of anime fandom across the World Wide Web, as well as the spread of anime conventions around the world.

On a related note, the Gainax OVA series Aim for the Top! Gunbuster contains what might be the first usage of the term 'otaku' within anime – in which 'otaku' is used to refer to a knowledgeable anime/SFX fan. Gunbuster is also one of the first three subtitled anime properties sold in the United States, along with Dangaioh and Metal Skin Panic MADOX-01.

On an unrelated note, Metal Skin Panic MADOX-01 is AnimEigo’s first commercial release in North America.

Previous releases of Otaku no Video


  • VHS: September 27, 1991 (Part 1) and December 20, 1991 (Part 2)
  • DVD: February 25, 2000
  • DVD (Remaster): December 26, 2014
  • Blu-Ray: December 26, 2014

North America (Animeigo)

  • VHS: March 17, 1993
  • DVD: April 10, 2002