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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.
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.
These individuals were drawn to anime, a counter-culture, with the release of hard science fiction works such as Mobile Suit Gundam.
Later that year, the contemporary knowledge magazine Bessatsu Takarajima dedicated its 104th issue to the topic of otaku.
The economic impact of otaku has been estimated to be as high as ¥2 trillion ( billion). This word is often used metaphorically, as an honorific second-person pronoun. For example, in the anime Macross, first aired in 1982, the character Lynn Minmay uses the term this way.
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.
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.