Friday, August 5, 2011

Anime Terminology and Japanese: Stop misusing it!

**This post uses Japanese characters, you might need to install a Japanese language pack.**

If you're familiar with anime (and manga a.k.a. comic books) you know there's a lot of strange Japanese words associated with it. The other day, on a certain website, I had to explain nearly 5 words to someone. Strangely enough, they were trying to teach someone else and didn't really know what they were doing. So, I'm going to teach you important, and oft misused words. Keep in mind, I don't really know Japanese, but I'm trying to learn. Kanji I don't know are probably found on Wikipedia or typed myself and double-checked with Rikaichan.

First up, there are several DEMOGRAPHICS, not genres, in anime. In manga, one can usually tell the demographic from the magazine is was serialized in.

  • (子供向け)Kodomo: Targeted at young kids. Think Pokemon, Digimon, and Doraemon. The characters read as Kodomomuke which means "Intended for children".
  • (小女)Shoujo: Targeted at young girls (through highschool). Literally "Small/young woman". The stories typically deal with romance, responsibility... etc. It usually has pretty art, but not always. It's not always girly either. Vassalord, DN Angel, Vampire Knight, and Mamotte Lollipop are all shoujo.
  • (少年)Shounen: Targeted at young boys (through highschool). Naruto, Kuroshitsuji/Black Butler, Lucky Star, and Bleach.
  • (女性)Josei: Targeted at adult women. The storys have more realistic and mature themes than typical shoujo.  Usagi Drop, and Paradise Kiss. Josei isn't really my cup of tea...
  • (青年)Seinen: Targeted at adult men usually from 20-30. My favorite demographic next to Shonen! Notable seinen titles are: Monster, Bartender, Le Chevalier d'Eon, Chi's Sweet Home, A-Channel, and Doujin Work!!

Now that we've covered the demographics, we'll get down to the terms that really deserve better, and the terms you need to know:

...Yeah. Cheap isn't it. I'm not going to bother explaining everything, and just expand on the important things that often get abused:

Otaku means "your house". In slang, it is a person so obsessed with a particular thing that they never leave their house. IT IS AN INSULT IN JAPAN! It's like someone calling you a nerd, or loser. In America, it's become a sort of reclaimed word meaning "anime fan", but I consider it an insult. Everytime someone refers to themselves as an otaku with a proud look on their face I facepalm.

Kawaii (可愛い) means cute. Is also shouted out by people who make me embarrassed to learn Japanese. This has to be the most abused word next to "desu". Please guys, just say cute in English. Stop randomly shouting it out (badly) at anime conventions. I hate hearing people say "KAH-WHY"

Desu is a copula (checked wiki) meaning "it is". It's used at the end of sentences in Japanese like so: "Korera wa ki desu." Those are trees. However, it's somehow become a meme.

Yandere is a term often used in anime. A person who's loving towards the object of their affections to the point of being psychotic. This line is taken from TV Tropes. Notable Yandere: Shion- Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Rolo (after Lelouch)- Code Geass, Seimei- Loveless, Keisuke-Togainu no Chi, Sayaka Miki- Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Kisshu -Tokyo Mew Mew, Naraku/Onigumo -Inuyasha, Ringo- Mawaru Penguindrum.
Karasu from Yu Yu Hakusho. He's infatuated with Kurama and wants to own him. Therefore, he considers killing him slowly and painfully to be the very best and most intimate way to do so.
 The term yandere isn't really abused, but:

Yangire is the abused term here. It's hardly even used. Too many Yangire are mistaken for Yandere. Yangire are the ones that just snap. It's got nothing to do with love, they just snap. Anemone, the crazy girl from Eureka Seven is a pretty good example. In Umineko no Naku Koro Ni, Maria Ushiromiya is an excellent case. All the years of abuse from her mother cause her to snap, and she eventually repeatedly kills her mother over and over again using magic. In Eureka Seven, Anemone goes insane due to the medicine she's being forced to take. Other Yangire: Rena Ryuuga- Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Rolo (before he met Lelouch)- Code Geass.

Yandere= Love. Yangire= NO LOVE 

Boy's Love (BL) is guy on guy for women. Like men, all women love seeing two guys loving each other [/sarcasm]. I don't quite get the BL phenomenon... but I'm weird.

Yaoi is typically of the mature variety, and is sexually explicit. Yaoi, does NOT mean gay. It irks me when people say it means gay because gay in Japanese is just gay. The word yaoi originates from the phrase "Yama nashi, ochi nashi, imi nashi" or "No peak, no point, no meaning." It's pretty murky where this phrase came from though. Among girls who like yaoi, there's also the more crude: "Yamete, oshiri (ga) itai" ...I'm not explaining that one. It'll be more funny (or disturbing) if you google it.

Yuri is the catch-all for girl on girl relationships. From the light and cute to the more hardcore things, yuri is your word. Like Yaoi, Yuri does not mean lesbian. Some people opt to follow the precedent set by yaoi, and call the lighter end Shoujo-Ai, but I've heard that's also used to refer to lolicon. I haven't ventured into this part of the anime world, and I don't think I am anytime soon.

These are pretty much the most abused I can think of. Please treat these words well, they depend on you.