One type of surveyed otaku spends twice as much as almost any other.

The word “otaku” often gets tossed around as an alternative for “anime fan,” but it can actually be used to describe fans of a number of hobbies whose passions are extraordinarily strong. Each year, the Yano Research Institute takes a look at the wide world of otakuism, with a specific interest in how much money fans are throwing around.

The Tokyo-based organization has just released the result of its most recent survey, compiled from responses from 10,408 men and women living in Japan, between the ages of 15 and 69, who consider themselves otaku in at least one of 21 categories. After collecting the data, the institute  calculated how much, on average, otaku from each category spent over the course of the year, so let’s take a look at the results and climb to the top of Mt. Otaku.

21. Vocaloids/virtual idols: 4,906 yen (US$44) per otaku annually
20. Boys’ love: 12,943 yen
19. Light novels: 13,200 yen
18. Pro wrestling: 15,608 yen
17. Adult games/erogames: 15,729 yen
16. Dating simulator games (non-pornographic): 16,975 yen
15. Dolls: 17,870 yen
14. Anime: 20,308 yen
13. Manga: 20,541 yen
12. Cosplay clothing/supplies: 25,608 yen
11. Dojinshi: 25,396 yen
10. Plastic models: 28,871 yen
9. Voice actors/actresses: 30,720 yen
8. Military paraphernalia: 34,965 yen
7. Adult videos: 36,203 yen
6. Collectible trading card games: 45,386 yen
5. Online games: 45,869 yen
4. Pre-assembled figures: 47,548 yen
3. Model railroads: 63,854 yen
2. Cosplay services (including maid/butler cafes): 68,114 yen
1. Idol singers: 103,543 yen

The first thing that jumps out is that yearly spending on anime, amongst the survey respondents, seems particularly light, at just 20,308 yen (US$183). That’s less than some hard-core fans will spend in a single trip through an anime convention dealer’s room. However, it’s worth noting that the way the data is classified implies that anime spending refers to exactly that: money spent on obtaining/watching the animation itself, which doesn’t always add up to so much in an era where so much of the anime getting made is being shown on free broadcast TV in Japan.

The money that fans spend showing their enthusiasm for an anime series by cosplaying as its characters, or purchasing independently published dojinshi comics at Comiket, was put into separate categories by Yano. Likewise, a large percentage of light novels and dating simulators (of both the pornographic and all-ages varieties) are part of a connected media empire that includes an anime adaptation, and the vast majority of pre-made figures sold in Japan, as well as a large portion of the do-it-yourself model kits, are based on anime characters or robots. Adding in all those expenditures would have pumped the “anime” category up to a level far beyond its 20,308 yen per year (as would lumping manga’s 20,541 yen in with its animated counterpart).

But while otaku have a well-deserved reputation as unabashed consumers of escapist fiction, the two highest-per-person-spending categories both involved otaku tossing their money at flesh-and-blood recipients. Coming in at second is the wide-ranging cosplay services sector, which includes maid cafes, butler cafes, and other eateries staffed by fancily attired attendants. And at the very top of the list, by a wide margin, we find idol singers, whose fans’ support for the genre has created an unprecedented idol boom in Japan.

Ironically, on the opposite end of the spectrum from idols are virtual idols. The Vocaloid industry hasn’t really been able to replicate Hatsune Miku’s mainstream recognition and financial success with another digital performer, and perhaps with actual idols being bigger than ever, otaku aren’t seeing the need to get their musical fix from virtual ones.

Source: Yano Research Institute via Huffington Post Japan via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2)