Otaku is the Japanese equivalent for 'geek'. It's actually an insult when used in Japan, but foreign fans of anime have seemed to pick it up. I don't know why, I wouldn't exactly want to say "hey, I'm an otaku, which means I have no life!" The ^_^ smiley comes from Japanese animation. Often, when anime characters smile, they shut their eyes so all you can see are the eyelashes.