If you're a newbie to anime, you might run across a heapin' helpin' of unfamiliar words when trying to read a review on an anime series you thought looked mighty interesting when you saw it on the shelf at your favorite store.  What to do?  Well, rather than force you to confront your neighborhood fanboy about it, we thought you might enjoy a little anime glossary on this site so you don't have to sit through an hours-long lecture on why you should never refer to Macross as Robotech

Ai - Love.  Sometimes used to express relationships of an intimate level.  For example, male/male sexual situations in anime are often referred to as 'shonen ai' or 'young male love.'

Anime - Japanese animation.  Preferences will change with every group of fans you meet, but some are truly insulted by the term 'Japanimation' so it's best to just refer to it as anime.  Though most guides say it's pronounced "annie-may," in Japanese it's actually "ani-meh," so doing the former in front of fluent Japanese speakers may cause some wincing and giggling.  Just FYI.

BGM - Background music.

Bishojo - Beautiful girl.

Bishonen - Beautiful boy.

Con - Short for convention, it usually applies to anime conventions such as Anime Expo, Otakon, and Katsucon.  This is often where anime fans meet their online friends and display their best costumes. 

Cosplay - Abbreviated word for 'costume play' that involves fans dressing up as their favorite character.

Doujinshi - Meaning 'same-person magazine,' this term describes the vast number of fan comics usually produced by amateurs and mostly not authorized by the original artist or publisher.  Many doujinshi involve characters from a popular series in pornographic situations.

Fan Service - Ever wonder why sometimes in an anime, the characters will go to a spa and get naked or take a lengthy shower and it does nothing to do with the plot whatsoever?  That's fan service for you folks, put in a show purely for the purpose of pleasing fans. 

Fansub - Anime that has been made available translated by fans.  These series are usually ones that have not yet been released outside of Japan for commercial viewing. 

Hentai - Literally meaning pervert, Hentai describes the genre of anime that caters exclusively to adults in the form of pornography.  However, you'll often hear it screeched by female character in Japanese-subtitled films followed by a mightly slap to the offending pervert.

Manga - Pronounced "mahn-gah," this word is used to refer to Japanese comic books, specifically the print kind.  However, it is sometimes also used as a general word for anime as well.  Most anime series originate as a manga series, though there are many manga that never appear as anime.

Mecha - Pronounced "meh-ka," this term refers most often to the genre of anime that involves giant robots, but can be used to refer to most any type of technology in anime. 

OST - Original sound track. 

Otaku - Though in Japanese, this word carries the negative connotations of 'geek,' 'nerd,' or 'obsessed fanboy,' anime fans in countries other than Japan use this term casually to refer to anime fanboys.  These are the folks you see at Anime Expo that often smell not so fresh, know the exact act of the exact episode that any line of dialogue ever spoken in a certain series appeared in, and spend most of their salary on anime.  Or maybe that describes you. However, the use of the word is not limited to outside of Japan; you may recall a movie from the '80's called Otaku no Video that illustrated the life of an otaku in Japan. 

OVA/OAV - Original video animation or original animation video, these terms describe the same thing--animation specifically released for home video or DVD and not for television or theatrical release.  These tend to be fairly short, usually consisting of less than ten episodes and are usually of higher quality than TV series.

SD - Stands for "Super Deformed," an art style which is usually used for purposes of self-parody and in which characters of normal proportion are drawn with large heads and little bodies, or really compact, baby-shaped figures for extra cuteness. 

Seiyuu - Japanese word for voice actor or actress.

Shoujo (or Shojo) - Meaning 'young female,' shoujo anime and manga caters to young or teenaged girls and is characterized initially by its flowery, softer drawing style. Characters in this genre are often drawn with massive, moist eyes, lanky limbs and great hair.  Themes in shoujo manga and anime typically include love, relationships, family, school, action and the supernatural.

Shounen (or Shonen) - Literally meaning 'young male,' it usually defines a genre of anime and manga that caters specifically to young men and often includes action, martial arts, sports, and the supernatural as themes. 

Shonen Ai - See yaoi

Yaoi - Another term for 'shonen ai' that specifically describes male/male homosexual relationships in anime or manga.  Not limited to pornography, you'll often find male characters that seem very 'close' in series, and these relationships are sometimes also described as yaoi.

Yuri - Female/female homosexual relationships in anime or manga.  Again as with yaoi, these are not limited to hardcore pornography but can be used to describe the relationship between characters. 

 

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