An Explanation of Japanese and Other Cultural Terms

Weaboo to English Dictionary

  • Weaboo: a derisive term for a non-Japanese fan of anime who uses excessive amounts of Japanese words, phrases or mannerisms and understands Japanese culture almost wholly through the lens of anime.

Episode 1

  • Bishie: short for Bishōnen (beautiful boy).
  • Shonen: boy, but in our podcast refers to anime and manga targeted at boys. The term specifically refers to the target demographic, but shonen works typically share many characteristics such as being action-oriented and focused on conflict. Examples include One Piece, Bleach, and Naruto.
  • Shojo: girl, but in our podcast refers to anime and manga targeted at girls. The term also refers specifically to the demographic being targeted, but shojo works frequently share many characteristics such as focusing on romance and character over plot. Examples include Sailor Moon, His and Her Circumstances, and Revolutionary Girl Utena.
  • Seinen: male youth, but in our podcast refers to anime targeted at men older than high school age. Typically deals with more complex subject matter than shonen works and can have more profanity and sexual content. Examples include Ghost in the Shell, Ergo Proxy, and Black Lagoon.
  • Fujoshi: rotten girl. A self-mocking pejorative term for female fans of manga, anime, and novels that feature romantic relationships between men.
  • Gainax-ing: a term created by English-speaking anime fans referring to the large breasts thought to be prevalent in anime from the studio Gainax. Specifically refers to bouncing breasts in anime. This is not a joke.
  • Best girl: slang used by anime and manga fans to describe a favourite character.

Episode 3

  • Otome: Literally maiden; in this context story games (typically romantic in nature) marketed towards women.
  • Tsundere: an anime character archetype where a female character will hide their attraction to a romantic interest by treating their crush with disdain.
  • Harem anime: a subgenre of anime where the male protagonist is the sole object of desire for a group of female characters vying for his affection.
  • Reverse harem: a harem anime where the female protagonist is the one surrounded by male suitors.
  • Shouta:  Literally boy, but in this context male equivalent of Loli (or Lolicon; usually Shotacon.) See also reverse loli.
  • Loli: short for Lolita, which is to say an underage female character.
  • Reverse loli: Male equivalent of Loli. See also Shouta.
  • Self-insert character: a genre of fanfiction in which the writer inserts an idealized version of themselves into the story, often literally in the case of fan fiction but usually via a thinly veiled stand-in character in the case of numerous anime and light novels.
  • -chan: Japanese honorific typically used as a term of endearment, but can be taken as disrespectful when used to indicate an inappropriate familiarity with the addressee.

Episode 4

  • Seinen: see above.

Episode 5

  • Moe: refers to the fetishization of feminine innocence in anime characters by fans of anime.

Episode 6

  • OVA: Original Video Animation, also known as OAV (Original Animated Video). Anime made directly for home video. This meant the work was not under constraints required of it to be released on TV or theatres, so there are graphically violent OVA (like Ninja Scroll). OVA are usually shorter than a TV anime series, though there are exceptions – most notably, the 110 episode Legend of the Galactic Heroes.
  • Twink: a term from gay subculture referring to a boyishly attractive young gay man.

Episode 9

  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Originally defined by Nathan Rabin as as “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.”

Episode 11

  • Shaggy dog story: a story with a long and rambling plot characterized by meaningless scenes and randomly appearing characters and which is revealed to be ultimately pointless.
  • Off model: a term in animation for instances in which a character’s appearance is accidentally different from what it is supposed to be (e.g, different hair colour, wrong jaw shape, too many fingers, missing eyes).
  • Frank Frazetta: a science fiction and fantasy artist known particularly for defining the classic look of sword and sorcery as muscular men fighting with swords while scantily clad women look on.

Episode 12

  • Thucydides: An Athenian statesmen of the fifth century BC who is widely considered to have fathered the discipline of history as a matter of objective study and analysis, distinct from myth and heroic storytelling, through his authorship of the text now generally referred to as ‘The Peloponnesian War’. The text chronicles the decades long war between Athens and Sparta (and their assorted allies) in the fifth century BC and provides analysis of its causes, the political and social dynamics that motivated the combatant parties and the war’s notable military campaigns. The text also served as the inspiration for the International Relations theory of political realism and the realist political concept of the Thucydides Trap, an idea related to the security dilemma, in which one state’s fear of another’s rising relative power in the system leads to conflict.
  • Political Realism: A theory of interpreting the behavior of states in the international system (international relations) that works upon the core assumption that the international environment at the state level is inherently anarchic. In such an anarchic environment, the need for security will drive individual states towards a fairly consistent series of behaviors across history, gauged by their relative level of power within the system, in order to ensure their own state’s survival. Realism is merely one of several explanatory tools for understanding and interpreting state behavior and is not meant completely exclude other factors (economic, social, ideological etc.) that also govern international politics. There are many sub-variants of realist thought which take its core assumptions towards extremely distinct policy conclusions.
  • Negging: A very dumb concept pioneered by the so-called Pick Up Artist community which advocates getting someone to like and/or want to sleep with by you wearing down their sense of self-worth and showing you don’t care by insulting them about pointless bullshit.

Episode 13

  • Kaiju: A Japanese term meaning ‘strange beast’ that has come to serve as shorthand for a prominent subgenre of Japanese monster movies, in which mighty creatures from beyond human understanding come to wage cinematic destruction upon humanity. Prominent examples of Kaiju include the famous Toho Pictures monsters such as Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra.
  • Imouto: A Japanese term for “little sister”. Beyond its more straightforward meaning, fiction focused on the idealized and/or fetishized platonic or romantic relationships between one family member and their younger sister, and the unconditional familial love ostensibly held therein, have become a significant niche subgenre of anime/light novels and manga in the form of works like Oreimo*.

*Kuroneko was best girl fite me

  • BL: Shorthand for a romantic genre of Japanese fiction known as “Boys Love”. BL tells romantic stories about same-sex male relationships but is primarily marketed towards a heterosexual female audience, with a frequent emphasis on the dramatic romances of beautiful men. The term BL is frequently used interchangeably with “Yaoi”.
  • Bara: A genre of Japanese fiction which focuses on same sex male relationships and whose primary audience is gay men. Bara contains numerous distinct subgenres and variations but in shorthand often refers to the presence of masculine gay men with a distinct aesthetic from the bishonen often featured in BL.
  • Will to Power: A philosophical concept created by Friedrich Nietzsche related to the innate need and desire of individual human beings to attempt to reach their maximum potential and that to strive for such fulfillment, irrelevant of success, is the mark of an individual who has truly lived.
  • Ubermensch: Another Nietzschen concept, the Ubermensch or ‘beyond-man/superman’ is an ideal state for which human beings should strive. The ubermensch represents Nietzche’s imagined ideal end state in which individuals live for and impose their passions/will on the world and are not beholden to existing structures of power or morality. The vagaries of the concept have seen it appropriated by myriad, and not infrequently contradictory, ideological movements.
  • late capitalism: a phrase used by Marxist-influenced thinkers to refer to the post-WW2 international economic system (with the implication that capitalism will soon end).

Episode 14

  • Cour: Used to describe a span of anime episodes during their initial Japanese TV broadcast. One cour runs for three months and typically consists of anywhere between 10 to 14 episodes and sometimes will contain a full season if the season is short enough.

Episode 18

  • Bottle episode: An episode in an episodic television show designed to save production costs by using only the main cast or a reduced number of the main cast and filming on a single set or location – typically one that has been previously used on the show.
  • Gonzo Journalism: Journalistic style in which an nonobjective journalist reports a story in a first person narrative as they experience events. Popularized by Hunter S. Thompson.
  • Noir: A genre of crime film or fiction characterized by cynicism, fatalism, and moral ambiguity.

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