10+ Anime and Manga Terms

Anime is a Japanese animation style that has evolved over the years. The word “anime” is used to describe any animated production, but usually refers to Japanese animations. Anime can be thought of as Japan’s answer to Disney. There are many different genres of anime and it should come as no surprise that each one has its own vocabulary words for the various terms and concepts associated with them. In this glossary, we will go through some basic terms related to anime so you can get started on your journey into the world of anime!

  • Action: Anime that focus on physical combat.
  • AMV: A video created by editing clips from one or more sources, usually related to a music track.
  • Baka: The word for idiot.
  • Bishounen: A hot guy, or a handsome young male in anime.
  • Ecchi: Anime that focus on sexual content.
  • Doujinshi: An independently published manga that is often an unofficial parody of a currently existing series.
  • Chibi: A Japanese term for tiny characters and people drawn in an exaggerated manner, typically with big heads and small bodies. The word literally means “short” but can be translated as the English equivalent of “cute”. In anime/manga it refers to children (or adults seen like children) who are no taller than 120 cm – 130 cm tall. They can also signify immaturity when used to describe adult males similar characteristics such as short stature, child-like appearance, emotional outbursts over petty matters etc.
  • Cosplay: A performance art in which participants wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character or idea. Cosplayers often interact with attendees, posing for pictures and signing autographs. The term is of Japanese origin but it can be used in English as well.
  • Gundam: Anime that focus on space battles involving giant robots called Gundam Units (usually human-sized).
  • Kawaii: Kawaii means “lovable” or “cute.” In addition to describing things people find lovable, kawaii have been embraced by the anime community where they are mainly applied to characters who appear cute because of their non-threatening personalities—although the degree varies from person-to-person.
  • J-pop: A type of Japanese popular music.
  • Manga: A comic book or graphic novel that is typically created in Japan, and often serialized in a magazine called manga (Japanese for “comics”). The word means “whimsical pictures” in Japanese.
  • Mecha: Anime that are set in the future with giant robots piloted by humans which can transform into different shapes to fight enemies.
  • Moe: Moe is an all-encompassing term used to describe cute things as well as people who are seen as being ‘adorable’ or ‘cute’. The pronunciation differs depending on the region.
  • Otaku: An anime enthusiast who has an obsessive interest in the medium. The term is of Japanese origin, and it may be used to refer to someone with more general obsessions or fetishes as well.
  • OVA: Anime that are short films produced by one company (as opposed to being commissioned by TV networks) and typically released on DVD; they usually run for 40-60 minutes at most, but there have been cases where episodes were longer than a typical OVA series.
  • Senpai: Senpai is a formal way of saying “senior” or “upperclassman”. It’s often used when describing classmates/teachers/students etc., especially if the age difference between them is significant.

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