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Anime and manga fans outside of Japan have adopted many "Japanese words and phrases". Some of these words have been misinterpreted, reinterpreted or undergone significant change in meaning. In addition, a variety of terms relating to anime and manga and the associated fandom have arisen, either by translation/transliteration from Japanese or as part of the shared slang or jargon of the subculture.

In some cases English and Japanese have contributed in complex ways to the formation of new words in either or both languages. (e.g. Hentai - ‘H’ - Ecchi)

Other subcultures have also adopted Japanese loan-words through contact with fans of such media as anime and manga.

In addition, there are a great many Japanese words and phrases that fans and the curious will come across in relation to anime and manga.

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  • Anime (アニメ?) — Any animation produced in or originating from Japan, or conforming to an "anime style" usually marked by features such as large eyes, long limbs, speed lines and exclamatory typography. In Japan, the term "anime" is typically used to refer to any animation or cartoon, regardless of origin or animation style.
  • Anime music video — Often abbreviated AMV, video clips from at least one anime series arranged to fit a musical piece playing in the background. AMVs usually cut out the audio and subtitles from the actual anime episodes, but sometimes sound clips or subtitles may be left in at certain parts to help enhance the video.


  • Bishōnen (美少年) — Beautiful boy — Japanese aesthetic concept of the ideally beautiful young man. Androgynous, effeminate or gender ambiguous. In Japan it refers to youth with such characteristics, but in the west has become a generic term for attractively androgynous males of all ages.


  • Catgirl — Character with cat ears and a cat tail, but an otherwise human body. These characters often have feline habits, claw-like nails, and occasionally show fangs. Emotional expressions are also feline in nature, such as an exaggerated fur-standing-on-end when startled. These characteristics are also sometimes used on guys as well as in the case of the characters of Loveless and Kyo Sohma of Fruits Basket.
  • Chibi — Japanese word meaning "shorty" or "little one". Due to Sailor Moon and mistranslation, in America it is sometimes used to mean super deformed.
  • CM — Commercial Message - An advert (usually on television).
  • ComiketComics Market — World's largest comic convention held biannually in Tokyo, Japan for producers and fans of Dōjinshi. (see Comic Party)



  • Ecchi — Perverted. — From ‘H’ for Hentai.
  • Eyecatch (アイキャッチ) — A scene or illustration used to begin and end a commercial break in a Japanese TV program, similar to how "bumpers" into/out of commercial breaks are used in the United States.


  • Fan fiction — A general story written by fans of media, including anime. Story or piece of fiction written by fans of a production.
  • Fansub — fan-subtitled — A version of anime in which fans have translated and subtitled the dialogue into another language, most commonly into English.
  • Fujoshi — A female yaoi fan.


  • Gakuran (学ラン) — Uniform for middle school and high school boys in Japan. The Gakuran is derived from Prussian army uniforms.
  • Ganguro (顔黒) Literally "black face". A fashion trend among Japanese girls. The look consists of bleached hair, a deep tan, both black and white eyeliners, false eyelashes, platform shoes, and brightly colored outfits.
  • Glomp — A hug in the manner of a small child, similar to a bearhug but often including one or both legs as well as arms. Also a hug in which the hugger jumps and catches the victim by surprise or off-guard. Occasionally referred to as a cross between a running tackle and a bearhug.
  • Gothloli — Gothic Lolita — A fashion trend where girls and young women dress in the style of elaborate porcelain dolls.


  • Hentai — "Abnormal" or "perverted". — Used by Western Audiences to refer to pornographic anime or erotica. However, in Japan the term used to refer to the same material is typically Poruno or Ero.
  • Huggle - A very affectionate hug used to show joy and/or thanks. It is also somewhat like a 'glomp' but not as violent or surprising. Also a cross between the words "hug" and "cuddle" or "snuggle".
  • Hikikomori - Similar to an otaku, but more severe. A Hikikomori is someone who secludes themselves within their home, sometimes refusing to leave their home at all in an effort to isolate themselves from society. It can be viewed as a social phobia similar to Agoraphobia. In Welcome to the N.H.K. the main character Tatsuhiro Satō is a Hikikomori.


  • Iinchō — Short for Gakkyū Iinchō, the class representative in a Japanese school.



  • Kawaii - cute. Kawaii has been referenced in Gwen Stefani's song "Harajuku Girls".
  • Kemono (獣 or けもの) — "Beast" — A genre of Japanese art and character design that prominently features animal-like fictional characters in human-like settings (Anthropomorphism) and situations. (see The Cat Returns, c.f. Furry)
  • Kemonomimi — Characters with animal features such as ears and a tails, but have a human body. Catgirl also falls under this concept. Examples include many of the characters of Loveless and the Sohma family of Fruits Basket.
  • Kogal (コギャル kogyaru) — A subculture of girls and young women, the kogal "look" roughly approximates a sun-tanned California Valley girl.
  • Komiketto — Genericised form of Comiket (Comics Market).



  • MAD - Resembling an anime music video, but usually with more humorous intent. Stands for "music anime doujinshi".
  • Manga (漫画) — book form of anime. Much like a story board.
  • Mangaka (漫画家) — Creator of the manga. The mangaka is often the writer and the illustrator of the work.
  • Moe (萌え) — the character who changes the most during the storyline of an anime or manga (e.g. tsundere)


  • Neko Girl/Boy — Character with cat ears and a cat tail, but an otherwise human body. These characters often have feline habits, claw-like nails, and occasionally show fangs. Emotional expressions are also feline in nature, such as an exaggerated fur-standing-on-end when startled. [See CatGirl] Examples include many of the characters of Loveless and Kyo Sohma of Fruits Basket.
  • Neko - Japanese word for Cat, or Feline, often used when referring to a character with cat ears and/or tail.


  • Otenba(kko)- tomboy
  • Omake — Some kind of add-on bonus on an anime DVD, like a regular 'extra' on western DVDs.
  • Orijinaru — Original
  • Otaku — Anime newcomers like to consider themselves "otaku" when they start liking anime; their definition of otaku is anime fan. Long-time anime fans, however, tend to not call themselves otaku because of its negative Japanese connotation. The literal translation of the word is your house, but in Japanese slang the word is used to describe somebody who is so obsessed with something they never leave their house. Basically it means "geek", but is occasionally associated with lolicons and pedophiles, like in the anime series Hand Maid May.
  • OVA — Original Video Animation, or OVA is a type of anime, which is intended to be distributed on VHS tapes or DVDs, and not to show in movies, or television. It can also less frequently be referred to as OAV, or Original Animated Video.
  • Owari — "End" in Japanese, used by some fanfiction authors at the end of their works. Also used at the end of many anime series.
  • Oyaji (親父, おやじ, オヤジ) — Daddy — Older male such as a teacher or other role model. Often slightly perverted, but usually portrayed affectionately. Can also be used as 'pops' or 'old man' (as in father).


  • Sake (酒) — Commonly called "rice wine" in North America, sake is an alcoholic beverage made from brewing rice.
  • Seinen (青年) - Intended for an older audience than shōnen. Content intended for men ages 18 to 40 or older.
  • Seiyū (声優) — Japanese voice actor. Not anime voice actor as seiyū also perform for radio shows and video games as well as do dubs for foreign TV shows and movies.
  • Shōjo (少女) — "Young woman" is, in western usage, a style of anime and manga intended for girls ages 5 to 10 or 10 to 18 depending on the content.
  • Shōnen (少年) — "Young boy" is, in western usage, a style of anime and manga intended for boys. These works are characterized by high-action, often humorous plots featuring male protagonists, and unrealistically endowed female characters providing fanservice. Aimed for boys ages 5 to 10 or 10 to 18 depending on the content.
  • Super deformed - Miniaturized versions of the characters integrated into the storyline to add comedy, or to display exaggerated emotion in a way that might be out of character. They are usually used when the character is supposed to be angry, sad, confused, or startled. More commonly known as a chibi.


  • Tsundere - a female character type whose personality is initially combative but eventually becomes loving and emotionally vulnerable.
    • See Yandere for the inverse of this trait.


  • Visual kei — An art movement characterized by eccentric looks, involving elaborate costumes and make-up.


  • Yamato Nadeshiko — the Japanese ideal for a woman, being humble and skilled in domestic matters.
  • Yandere — a character whose initially loving personality eventually becomes an often brutally deranged and psychotic individual
    • See Tsundere for the inverse of this trait.


  • Zettai Ryouiki: This term refers to a style of dressing, where a certain amount of skin is exposed between the miniskirt and the thigh high socks.

See also

External links



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Published - February 2009

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