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ART, ANIME, AND JAPANESE CULTURE
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anime and manga glossary
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N
NANI.. The Japanese word for what.
NEWBIE.. American slang for a person who has just discovered something. In the context of anime and manga, a newbie is an enthusiastic new fan that has viewed primarily American produced dubs of anime and seen only English translated manga. A newbie's exposure to original Japanese works has been minimal at best, with overall knowledge of manga and anime quite low.
O
OHAYOU.. Good Morning. The polite form would be "ohayou gozaimasu."
ONI.. A fierce horned demon somewhat akin to the ogre found in Western mythology. Oni have the power to transform into the human female form in order to mask their true identity.
OP.. The opening theme music to an anime that plays as the show begins.
OTAKU.. This word can have a very negative meaning depending on the context in which it is used. In Japanese society its usage is widely understood to mean someone who is an anti-social maniac. But in the International anime community the word has evolved into a slang reference meaning obsessed fan. Serious devotees of anime and manga call themselves otaku.
OVA.. Anime that is released directly to video tape without having been broadcast on television is referred to in Japan as an Original Video Animation or OVA. Westerners will often transpose the letters to "OAV" but the meaning remains the same.
P
POKEMON.. An Alien life-form that invaded and conquered the Earth in the late 20th Century. All seriousness aside, the word Pokemon is a Japanese contraction of the English words pocket and monster... and no, it is not pronounced "Pokey Man."
R
RONIN.. Samurai were a class of military retainers to the rich and powerful (samurai means "one who serves"), but when samurai lost their benefactors they became ronin, or "masterless samurai." The manga and anime series Rurouni Kenshin is based upon one such Lordless samurai.
S
SAKURA.. Means cherry blossom, or cherry blossom tree, and sakura hold a very special place in the Japanese heart. As far back as the 10th century the blossom has been considered the national flower, and it has been the subject of poetry, prose, and paintings over the ages. From the 10th century to the present day, hanami or "flower viewing" parties have been held in March and April to celebrate the ephemeral beauty of the delicate pink flower. During hanami season, trees all over Japan go into full bloom and clouds of cherry blossoms can be seen carried on the gentle winds. One of the most reoccurring visuals in all of anime is the sight of cherry blossoms gently floating to the ground, with flurries of the petals surrounding on screen characters. Keep in mind, that to the Japanese, the cherry blossom is so special, that a cherry blossom tree (sakura) and cherry fruit tree (sakurambo) are two totally different things.
-SAMA.. The very formal honorific used when talking to or about someone who is much older and wiser, or someone whom you admire to the point of near worship. The honorific is gender neutral and used when referring to men or women. Used primarily to show great respect to an individual, as in "Miyazaki-sama is a distinguished artist."
-SAN.. The formal, polite honorific one uses when talking to or about someone of equal social status. The honorific is gender neutral and used when referring to adult men or women, as in "Gendo-san and Ritsuko-san both work with computers."
SEIYUU.. A professional voice actor or actress. In Japan, animation studios employ seiyuu to provide the many voices for characters. Some seiyuu have become big stars in their own right due to their voice acting abilities. A talented seiyuu can take on a wide variety of roles, for instance Ohtani Ikue does the voice of Pikachu from Pocket Monsters as well as doing the voice of the cat girl named Meruru from
Vision of Escaflowne
.
SENPAI.. An honorific used by a young person when talking to or about a benefactor or senior in a social organization. The usage of this honorific is encountered time and again in anime, mostly when students are talking to or about their senior classmates, as in "Tamiya-sempai heads the campus motorcycle club." Used as a noun, it would just mean, "our seniors", or "our upperclassmen".
SEINEN.. Seinen means "young Man." Manga and anime that specifically targets young adult males around the ages of 18 to 25 are seinen titles. The stories in seinen works appeal to university students and those in the working world. Typically the story lines deal with the issues of adulthood. The tough guy secret agent Golgo 13 is a good example of a seinen title.
SENSEI.. The formal, polite honorific used when addressing someone who is an accomplished professional. doctors, teachers, professors, scientists, and other specialists are addressed in this way. Gifted individuals in the arts are also addressed in this manner, as in "Akemi-sensei created the great series known as Patlabor."
SENSHI.. The literal translation of this word is soldier. When dubbing into English the Japanese series Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon (Pretty Soldier Sailormoon), American editors changed the word to mean "scout." There's quite a big difference between a soldier and a scout.
SHINTO.. Japan's oldest and original intrinsic religion is Shinto. In Shintoism everything in the natural world possesses it's own spirit, or kami. Shinto is based upon the worship of and coexistence with the natural world. The highest deity in the Shinto pantheon is the sun goddess Amaterasu. In the Tenchi Muyo series, Tenchi's Father, Masaki Yoshi, is a Shinto Priest. A Shinto place of worship is always called a Jinja (shrine), and a Buddhist place of worship is always referred to as an Otera (temple), though architecturally the two buildings may look quite similar.
SHRINE.. In Shinto, the natural world is sacred, and in the ancient past some of the first places of worship were large trees or boulders. Shimenawa, or "sacred ropes" made of paper and rice straw are still placed on or around areas designated as sacred (In Miyazaki's My Friend Totoro a shimenawa can be seen around the tree Totoro sleeps in). Shimenawa can always be seen draped above the entrance to a Shrine (a Shinto place of worship is referred to as a Shrine, whereas a Buddhist place of worship is a Temple). The entranceway to a shrine is often marked with a red archway called a torii. Today many anime enthusiasts refer to web sites constructed in honor of specific anime characters as "shrines."
SHOUJO.. The Japanese word for girl. Shoujo also defines the manga and anime titles that are specifically created for young girls. These works often have very complex stories and character interaction. Romantic and plot driven shoujo works like Onii-sama e, Marmalade Boy, and Fushigi Yuugi have also attracted large numbers of male fans.
SHOUNEN.. The Japanese word for boy. Shounen also defines the manga and anime titles that are specifically created for young boys. These works are often filled with lots of action, fantasy adventure, and giant robots.
SHUNGA.. A literal translation of this word would be Images of Spring. In 18th Century Japan most ukiyo-e artists produced shunga works. These erotic artworks displayed staggering imagination and made their presence felt in the form of popular woodblock prints. Modern day eroticism found in manga and anime can be traced back to shunga, not in any overt stylistic sense, but in the celebration of the sexual as natural and part of life. Remember, in Japanese culture there is no concept of "original sin" as there is in the Christian West (see UKIYO-E).
SUPER DEFORMED.. A style of drawing extremely common in anime and manga that has absolutely no equivalency in the West. Normally proportioned characters are shrunk and distorted in the super deformed style. Bodies become very small and heads become disproportionately large. Often times characters in a particular scene will be drawn in both normal and super deformed styles. Usually when a character is drawn in this way it denotes an extreme mood change, anger, sillyness, or exasperation. Characters are also drawn in super deformed style just because it makes them look so cute... and in Japan, cuteness is everything! model figures, dolls, keychains, and various toys will also present characters in the super deformed style.
SWEAT DROP.. This is a signature visual stylization used in manga and anime. Whenever a character is feeling embarrassed, perplexed, self-conscious, or just plain stupid... a large tear drop shape will appear near their face or head. Sometimes this "sweat drop" is small and barely noticeable and other times it can nearly cover an entire face. This visual clue denotes to the viewer that the character is feeling out of sorts.
T
TANKOUBON.. A book format in which manga are compiled after having had successful serialized runs in magazines. Tankoubon means separate volume and these softcover books contain around five to eleven story installments. Tankoubon are usually printed on high quality paper and black ink, whereas the larger monthly serial magazines are produced less expensively with colored ink on newsprint paper.
TEZUKA OSAMU.. Tezuka is one of those giants in the world of art that everyone should know about. He is considered the modern Father of manga and anime and is so revered in Japan that a museum has even been built to house all of his creations. In 1963 Tezuka created his Tetsuwan Atomu (literally, "Atom with iron arms"), which later that same year premiered on U.S. television as Astro Boy. Tezuka created the very first full color animation, a television series called Jungle Taitei (Jungle Emperor). Years later, when Disney Studios released it's "Lion King" animated movie, the people of Japan were absolutely stunned and furious that it was nothing more than a replica of Tezuka's Jungle Emperor story. Disney's Lion King story was almost an exact copy of Tezuka's. The animated feature film, METROPOLIS is based upon a famous manga
series by Tezuka.
TOMODACHI.. Friend.
U
UKIYO-E.. This school of art developed in the late 1670's and went on to become one of Japan's most well known artistic styles. Ukiyo-e means "floating world pictures" and its aesthetics are concerned with the transient, fleeting aspects of life. Ukiyo-e woodblock prints became very fashionable in the Europe of the late 1800's, and eventually directly influenced the Impressionist painters. If you study ukiyo-e you'll see its sensibilities resonating in today's anime.
UFO CATCHER.. A coin operated mechanical game machine found in arcades. The machine's "joy stick" control is used to skillfully direct a mechanical hook in capturing the small plush dolls held in the machine's large see through bin. The plush dolls (called "UFO Catcher Dolls"), are super deformed versions of anime characters. These dolls have become very popular collectables in the West because of their rarity
and hyper cuteness.
Y
YAOI.. Also known as shounenai or boy's love. Yaoi manga features romantic love between male characters. These homo-erotic titles which can sometimes be quite explicit are enjoyed by a great number of women in Japan, in fact, there are many more female readers of yaoi manga than there are male readers. There is no equivalent to shounenai in the world of Western comic books.
YUME.. The Japanese word for dream.
YURUSENAI.. A very common expression heard in anime which means "I won't forgive you!"
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