Konata is a surprisingly good character. There’s something very endearing about her and for a long time (since I finished watching Lucky Star), I wasn’t quite sure what it was, but now I know.
I’ve heard from numerous people that they think Konata’s popularity is because she has the same tastes as and acts like a male otaku. That’s not necessarily off the mark, but it’s a little too simplistic. The actual appeal of Konata is not simply that she’s an otaku, but that she’s an otaku who’s not afraid to show that side of herself in public.
I think there’s a fear within everyone (but particularly relevant to dorks) that if they reveal too much of themselves that people will think less of them. They will either believe they cannot make any friends, or that their friends will stop being so friendly. Konata stands in the face of all that. Where most of dvd-and-figure-buying comrades falter, Konata is able to confidently declare to her “commoner” friends that yes, she loves Haruhi, yes, she goes to Comic Market, and yes, she is indeed an otaku.
Combined with some of Konata’s more poignant scenes, such as the Hirano Aya concert or some of her conversations with her dad, Konata shows that she’s not just an impossible ideal for otaku, but that it’s possible to both feel weak and strong at the same time.
Konata, one might say, is the opposite of Ogiue. However, unlike, say, Kohsaka from Genshiken, Konata doesn’t appear to be too perfect. Sure, she’s athletic, sure she’s friendly and outspoken, but in the end she is still genuine to her own interests, still has her own doubts and insecurities, and really isn’t that much different from the otaku from which she is derived.