I think that what makes an otaku develop into what he/she is would be the exposure to anime or related stuff, at an early age (maybe before 15). The early age thing is important, because I’ve realized that any later than that age and you won’t be able to succumb to the anime fandom. For example, showing your zilch-exposure-to-anime friends anime stuff can be traumatizing.
Something like this has happened before.
Me: ‘So, have you heard of anime?’
Them: ‘Huh? Anime? Oh, you mean anime? (omg, they pronounced it as enemy) Yeah I know about it! Naruto right? (that’s all they’ve ever heard of..)’
So anyway, it’s too late for them to be converted. They can’t appreciate Japanese and anime songs (‘No way, English songs/K-pop is so much better!’) and they don’t even try. In fact, they give up within 30 seconds of the song, sometimes even before the singer’s voice is heard. Trololol. Another thing is that they don’t appreciate the anime art style that we otakus adore. That cannot be forgiven. They basically find it foreign and will stubbornly stick to their other likes. It’s a gone case.
So back to my childhood, I probably watched pokemon weekly/played every last pokemon game on the gameboy which includes: Pokemon green, red, yellow, silver and gold. Plus Yugioh cards- I was way addicted to them and I kept buying more and more to create the perfect deck, then I would duel with my siblings. During the holidays, I would watch Naruto daily for about…the whole day. There were also other stuff like Masked Rider Kabuto that i’d watched and basically they all built up on my journey to being an otaku.
Just look at that picture of Ash and Pikachu!! Doesn’t it bring back so many memories? I mean, he looks more handsome here and Pikachu is kinda…fat, but it’s definitely Pokemon :)
So yup, I guess being an otaku is part of me now, and I’ll never regret the fact that my childhood was like that. Anime is my life!