Black Moon presents this glossary of anime and manga
terms as a short, concise, beginner's guide. Written with
the uninitiated in mind, this guide presents definitions
for words and concepts frequently encountered in Japanese
animation and print publications.
The Japanese contraction and pronunciation of the English
word animation. Anime refers to traditional hand
painted cel animation, but also applies to animation created
in part or in whole by computers (Such as the 3D digital
animation Final Fantasy.)
Thanks. The use
of this word denotes some familiarity with the person it
is being said to. The full polite expression would be, Doumo
arigatou gozaimasu (Thank you very much).
An insult that casts a shadow on the function and contents
of the subject's mind.. the word quite literally means fool.
One could also say, o-baka or great fool.
Short for "Background
Music." This is the music played in the background of an
anime. Unlike music in most Western animation, the BGM in
anime can be very sophisticated and can stand alone on its
artistic merits. Some of Japan's most talented composers,
performers, and singers have created music for anime. Anime
shows can also generate enormous numbers of soundtrack CDs,
ranging in style from Pop, Rock, and Classical, to experimental
noise and traditional Japanese folk music. Sailormoon alone
generated some 28 music CDs.
The literal translation
is Beautiful Girl. Example; Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon...
(Pretty Soldier Sailormoon).
The literal translation
is Beautiful Boy. Bishounen are found in all types
of manga and anime and can be quite masculine, they are
not necessarily "effeminate" males but sometimes are. Bishounen
are the focus in shounenai or Boy's love manga...
see the definition of yaoi.
Aside from Shinto,
the other major religion in Japan is Buddhism. Buddhist
teachings found their way to Japan in 552 AD, having traversed
most of Asia from their birthplace in India. Gautama Buddha's
message was that all suffering in this world is caused by
desire and an attachment to the material plane of existence.
Only through right living, ending desire, and doing away
with the "self" can enlightenment be attained and the bliss
of Nirvana entered. Although several very different types
of Buddhism flourish in Japan, Westerners are usually most
familiar with Zen Buddhism, which focuses on discipline
and meditation, and has the most parallels with Taoism.
When looking at manga and anime it's important to understand
that these Arts sprang from a culture with a completely
different religious orientation than Western countries.
Japanese values and sensibilities have been shaped over
thousands of years by Shinto and Buddhist teachings. Christianity
is a latecomer to Japan, and today less than one percent
of Japan's population embraces Christianity.
Refers to Computer Generated Illustration as used
in manga or anime. Macintosh computers started an
explosion in the use of computer assisted illustration in
manga production, and today's manga make heavy use of computers...
though the results still look hand crafted. Today's anime
makes wide use of computer technology, even when it is not
evident. Miyazaki's Mononoke-hime (Princess Mononoke)
used computer technology extensively for tracking motion,
charting perspective, filling in color, and generating some
limited special effects. Other contemporary anime like BLOOD:
The Last Vampire rely heavily upon CGI but make no attempt
to hide the results. "BLOOD" is a brilliant example
of the fusing of traditional cel
animation with the digital arts.
The honorific used when
addressing or referring to children, girls and young women.
The word is not used between adults unless there is a great
deal of familiarity and affection. Because of the cuteness
of the term, this honorific tends to be gender particular
and is more often heard when referring to females, as in
"Rei-chan spoke with Gendo-san."
Japanese shorthand for
the English word character. The word refers to character
designs in anime, manga, movies, or games. Entire illustrated
books are released for various anime series in which rough
black & white sketches and refined drawings of anime
characters are compiled. Many anime illustration books include
a chara section.
A Japanese contraction
of the English words comic and market. Comiket
is Japan's largest biannual gathering of manga sellers and
buyers in Tokyo. Held at the Tokyo Big Sight Convention
Center, crowds of over 100,000 people will show up for
the two day event. Over 10,000 creators and publishers of
doujinshi sell their wares at Comiket, but you can also
find vendors selling postcards, posters, trading cards,
and other manga and anime related items. Game developers
also have a large presence, selling the very latest in anime
Doujinshi roughly translates
into same stuff, different people. These are unofficial,
amateur produced manga based upon successful, well established
manga or anime series. Doujin range in quality from crude
black & white pamphlets numbering a few pages, to beautifully
produced volumes that dazzle the eye. You'll find incredibly
talented artists creating doujin, and many successful mangaka
got their start in doujin circles. Most doujinshi are parodies,
or alternative takes on established titles, with some doujin
venturing into explicit adult themes. Large Japanese publishing
houses generally look the other way and ignore the small
print runs of doujinshi publishers... which never amount
to more that a few thousand copies.
Shorthand meaning the ending music that plays over
the closing credits of an anime. Successful anime shows
will always have their OP (opening music), and ED
songs released on Compact Disk Soundtracks, with some theme
songs even being released as CD singles.
Ecchi is a mild term referring to someone or something of
a perverse sexual nature. It is also the Japanese pronunciation
of the English letter "H" (see HENTAI).
A visual in anime that precedes and follows an advertising
break. The eyecatch visually summarizes the show's nature
and most often features the main characters, sometimes drawn
in super deformed style (see SUPER DEFORM).
FAULT.. Often seen in manga
and anime, a Face Fault is an exaggeration of facial
features meant to convey extreme shock or surprise. A flabbergasted
character's mouth will open until it literally hits the
floor and eyes will become larger than usual. Most often
a face fault is accompanied by the character simply falling
over from shock.
An unofficial video tape release of an anime that has been
subtitled into English by fans. While technically illegal
because of copyright issues, fansubbing has been one of
the major vehicles for getting translated shows into the
hands of Western audiences. Hence, fansub projects are looked
upon favorably by veteran anime viewers, provided the fansubbers
no profit off of their projects.
A work of fiction written
by a fan and based on a popular anime or manga title.
Has the same meaning as the English word, foreigner
though it's not necessarily used in a derogatory manner.
The word is actually short for gaikokujin (foreigner),
and is used to refer to all non-Japanese persons. While
a few right-wing nationalist minded Japanese may imbue the
word with the politics of distrust ("the foreigner" as threat
to cultural purity), most people offer no offense when using
the word and are most respectful to persons of non-Japanese
KIT.. A plastic model kit
of an anime character that is constructed by hand with glue,
customized, and hand painted. Most garage kits are representations
of popular anime characters, though mecha are also to be
found. In Japan there are several excellent magazines devoted
to garage kit models
REPLICANT (devoted mostly to characters), and HOBBY
JAPAN (devoted mostly to mecha) being two such magazines.
There are even large scale garage kit conventions that attract
thousands of people. Wonder Fest, or WON-FES is
a garage kit market held twice a year at Toyko's Big
Sight Convention Center. At WON-FES one can see displays
of the very latest anime character or mecha models constructed
by fans. But kits are also available for purchase... either
fully constructed and painted, or as kits to be built and
finished by the buyer.
A Japanese slang word meaning perverted or perversion.
In the world of manga and anime, hentai refers to the adult
oriented titles that present extreme, graphic sexual imagery.
A common Western stereotype concerning manga and anime is
that these artforms are filled with graphic sex. While such
imagery exists (and has always existed in Japan), hentai
titles make up just a small niche market in Japan's massive
manga and anime output. Good examples of hentai anime would
be La Blue Girl and Urotsukidoji (also see
To transform. Seen most often in Magical Girl manga
and anime like Card Captor Sakura, Sailormoon
and Fancy La La. A henshin sequence is when a normal
character transforms into their magical alter ego.
A young Pop singer, actor, or starlet. Japan has been awash
with Pop icons since the 1960's, and today new Idols
seem to be manufactured on a weekly basis. The all girl
group Morning Musume is a fine contemporary example
of an Idol group. Satoshi Kon's animated motion picture
Perfect Blue is a murder mystery involving a female
Idol singing group.
COLLECTION.. A book of
Illustrations or fine art created by a well known manga
or animation artist. Illustration collection books are most
often visual elaborations of already existing works, but
they can also be an artist's exploration of new territory.
ALBUM.. Music collections
based upon popular manga or video games.
A huge threatening monster of enormous destructive power.
Japanese science fiction films are filled with kaijuu...
Godzilla (Gojira), Mothra, and Gamera
are just a few.
An expression for Supreme Being (God), which in Shinto,
can also be used to describe lesser supernatural beings
and spirits inhabiting the natural universe (see also SHINTO).
When speaking of a particular god or God, it would be proper
to say, kami-sama. Kami can be translated
many different ways depending on the context, for example,
kamikaze means "holy wind".
This monster spirit lives in water and has been associated
with rivers. Kappa are very strong and are dangerous
to humans. They like to drink sake and eat cucumbers, in
fact, their love of cucumbers is so great that the sushi
made from cucumber has come to be called kappa-maki.
The beautiful slightly curved sword called katana
is said by many to be the very soul of Japan, and the county's
history and folklore is replete with references to the blade.
The Japanese word for cute. Cuteness is a national
fixation in Japan and it is certainly one of the defining
aesthetics of manga and anime. Westerners who first encounter
the cult of cute initially go into shock... but believe
me, it grows on you.
An understanding of a person's character made by knowing
his or her blood type. Personal statistics for anime or
manga characters will often include blood type as well as
age, height, hair color, etc. You'll often be asked by new
"What's your blood type?"
Kodomo means "child" and in Japan there are manga
and anime specifically created for children under 10 years
of age. Doraemon and Anpanman are two wildly
popular kodomo titles. Doraemon is a futuristic robot cat
who is sent back in time (which would be our present), in
order to combat evil and save humanity. Anpanman is a superhero
sweet roll filled with bean jam who fights giant evil germs
and feeds the hungry by letting them eat his head.
Yeah... you read that correctly.
An honorific used for addressing or referring to children
and teenagers, particularly males, or in an adult setting,
used to address an inferior. In anime, you see this term
used more and more to address females, especially ones who
tend to act rather "masculine".
COMIC.. These manga are
specifically created for women over 20 and for Office
Ladies (those women who work office jobs). Lady's comics
are filled with stories about dating, romance, and the occasional
In 1814 the famous Japanese artist Hokusai created
a book of black & white sketches that he called manga
(involuntary sketches). In recent Japanese history the word
has come to describe those small illustrated books of black
& white ink drawings that tell a series of stories.
Graphic novel would be the closest translation for
"manga" though they are not at all like novels in the Western
sense, nor are they comparable to Western comic books. Manga
cover a wide range of topics, from fantasy & adventure,
to sports & cooking.
Manga Artist. One who draws manga.
The word is gender neutral and can refer to a male or female
artist. In fact many of Japan's most famous mangaka are
women. Takeuchi Naoko (Sailormoon), Takahashi
Rumiko (Ranma 1/2), and Watase Yu (Fushigi Yuugi),
to name but a few.
The Japanese word for magic. Also used in conjunction
with the word shoujo (Girl). Mahou shoujo
literally means "magical girl" and is used to describe shows
like Sailormoon, Nurse Angel Ririka SOS, and
Card Captor Sakura.
The Japanese expression for "It can't be!"
A Japanese contraction of the English word mechanical.
Mecha (pronounced "meh-ka"), refers to anything of
a mechanical nature... weapons, advanced body armor, vehicles,
and of course... giant robots. The first mecha to ever appear
in a Japanese production premiered in the 1957 live action
science fiction film,
The Mysterians ("Macross" fans take note). The mecha,
called Mogera was a colossal bird-like robot that
could shoot death rays from it's eyes!
Meaning everyone. You can respectfully address an
entire room full of people by using the honorific minna-san,
which is somewhat like saying "Ladies and Gentlemen." However,
the honorific is gender neutral so it could be used when
speaking to women, men, or mixed company.
A Japanese contraction of the English words magazine
and book. Mook are books with the look, design,
and layout of magazines. There are literally thousands of
these beautiful, full color publications to be found relating
to the world of anime and other topics.
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