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Your Anime Vocabulary Starter Guide

Your Anime Vocabulary Starter Guide

Every fandom has its own vocabulary. And then there’s anime, where most of the terms are an entirely different language. But before you throw your hands up in frustration trying to understand the difference between twelve words all ending in “-masu,” take a few minutes to read this lexicon of anime starter terms.

A – ANIME

Anime, simply put, is animation from Japan. It can also be considered animation that emulates the Japanese art style. The format can be a TV series, a mini-series (sometimes called an OVA- Original Video Animation), or a movie.

Photo credit: viewersdiscretionisadvised.wordpress.com

B – BAKA

Dummy. Idiot. Stupid. “Baka!”

C – CHIBI

Something small or shrunken while still being cute.

D – DOUJINSHI

Fan-made manga, and they’re not just on LiveJournal! There are stores full of this stuff in Japan.

E – ECCHI

Containing sexual themes without being explicit.

F – FAN SERVICE

Additional material ,such as up-skirt and cleavage shots, that are included to please the viewer, but are not necessary to the story.

G – GAKURAN

The uniform made for middle school and high school students in Japan.

H – HAREM

Harem is a sub-genre of anime in which the protagonist is surrounded by a multitude or men or women, most of whom have some kind of attraction to that protagonist.

I – ITAI

“Itai!” is what a character exclaims when something hurts like a cut, a bee sting, a stab wound, a third-degree burn, or an amputation. You get the picture.

J – J-POP

Japanese pop music, sometimes used for anime theme songs. It is not a kind of soda. Soda will come later.

K – KAWAII

Kawaii (pronounced like Hawaii) means cute. Not to be mistaken for kowai (ko-why) which means scary.

L – LOLITA

A Japanese fashion style in which girls dress up in Victorian-inspired outfits that make them appear doll-like.

Photo credit: Dark Horse

M – MANGA

Japanese comic style, traditionally in black and white. Some manga is found serialized in magazines, but most likely you will find multiple chapters bound in one book. Commonly read from right-to-left, instead of the American-style left-to-right.

N – NANI?

What? No really, it means “What?” You will often hear it combined with other words to create more specific questions like “What’s that?” or “What are you doing?”

O – OTAKU

Someone who is obsessed with any kind of fandom. In Japan, “otaku” is a derogatory word that implies that a fanboy is nonfunctional. In Western culture, however, the word is defined more specifically as a “hardcore fan of anime/manga/Japanese culture.”

Photo credit: pocky.com

P – POCKY

A cookie stick covered with yum. Need we say more?

Q – Q-VERSION

A cute version of a person or thing.

R – RAMUNE

Flavored soda with a ball in the neck for…reasons. Challenge yourself to open and drink one of these things before you research how to actually do it.

S – SHOUNEN/SHOUJO

“Shounen” means “boys” and “shoujo” means “girls.” These terms are often used to differentiate between intended audiences. Additional terms you might want to familiarize yourself with are “bishounen/bishoujo” (or bishie for short) which means a pretty boy or pretty girl. There is also “mahoshoujo” which means “magical girl,” a common anime genre along the lines of Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura.

T – TSUNDERE

A character who starts off cold and indifferent until you get to know them, then find their warm and gooey center.

U – URUSAI

The word means “noisy,” but when said alone, it can also be used to say “Shut up.”

Photo credit: http://www.malice-mizer.co.jp/

V – VISUAL KEI

A fashion movement started by Japanese musicians that uses flashy and elegant costumes, hair, and makeup. Sometimes this look is intended to make performers look more androgynous.

W – WEEABOO

An English derogatory term for a non-Japanese person who’s so obsessed with Japanese culture that they will emulate it in multiple aspects of their lives. No, going out for authentic ramen does not a weeaboo make.

X – X GESTURES

The X is a very common and very clear symbol in Japan. Basically, it means “no good” or “DO NOT WANT.” You know how sometimes Japanese RPGs will use the O button to confirm and the X button to back out on PlayStation games? Drives you crazy, right? This is why.

Y – YAOI/YURI

Yaoi and yuri are terms for anime and manga with homosexual love stories. Yaoi (pronounced yow-ee) is for males and also known as “BL” or “boys love.” Yuri is for females.

Z – ZETTAI

Meaning “absolutely.” Zettai is a common term you might hear when someone is determined to stand strong, such as “Zettai akiramenai!” or “I absolutely won’t give up!”

What subarashii or benri words would you add to our list? Tell us below in the comments!

Feature Image credit: Toei Animation

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