For those who are new to anime movies and the popular, very serious world of anime fandom, the liberal use of Japanese, and Japanese-inspired, words and terms can be confusing. Have no fear — we’ve come up with a beginner’s glossary to anime, allowing you to attend your next convention or converse with other fans and have at least some idea of what you’re talking about.
Types of Anime
While the term “anime” is used to describe anything produced in the typical Japanese style, there are actually a number of different types of anime that appeal to vastly different audiences.
“Donjinshi,” for example, is a term for poorly produced anime; while many people believe that these are fan-produced videos (also known as “fanfic” for stories written by fans or “fansubbed” or “fandubbed” when the subtitles or voiceovers are created by fans), that’s not always the case. As with any animated films, not all products are created equal.
Regardless of who produces the film, understanding what type it is can help you choose the right one. “Shojo,” for example, are marketed toward young women and generally contain romantic or emotional stories; “Josei” is similar, but marketed to more mature audiences due to its more explicit content. For males, “Shonen” films are geared toward younger men, while “Seinen” are the more mature versions. For both sexes, there is a small market of sexually explicit anime, known as “Hentai.”
Grab Your Costume and Play
One of the most common terms you’ll hear as a fan of anime is “cosplay.” Short for costume play, it basically means getting dressed up as your favorite character to attend a convention, party or other event. Cosplay isn’t limited to just anime fans; you’ll find comic book, superhero, science fiction and even literature enthusiasts will engage in it at various events. Depending on where you are going, some fans take their cosplay very seriously, and showing up in a costume that’s less than perfect will subject you to disdain or even ridicule. However, for the most part, anime enthusiasts encourage cosplay, and your efforts to emulate a favorite character won’t be in vain.
Character Types and Names
Of course, dressing up as a character requires that you know who the characters are and what their terms mean. The term “Bishie” generally refers to a character of either sex that’s considered beautiful; to refer to a specific person or sex, use “bishojo” for women or “bishonen” for a man. In some circles, using the term bishojo implies sexual availability, but for the most part it’s simply a descriptive term. The term “Bijin” is also common. The best way to define it is that it’s similar to “babe,” but never used in a disrespectful way.
Chibi is another common term used in anime and manga circles. Derived from Japanese slang for “short person” or “small child,” it can refer to the child versions of popular characters, but in Western anime, it usually refers to a particular drawing style that includes oversized heads and childlike characteristics. In other words, chibi is the “cute” style that’s used in scenes that are meant to be sweet or funny, or relating to childhood. And when any character transforms into a superhero (or anything else), it’s known as “Henshin.”
While any “otaku,” or person who is obsessed or extremely knowledgeable about anime will tell you that there are hundreds more terms, covering everything from character names to styles to types of characters, understanding the basics will allow you to better understand and enjoy this style of entertainment. So whether you are a bishojo who enjoys Josei or a bishonen who has a soft spot for chibi, take some time to learn the terminology and you’ll have no trouble finding a whole world of anime to explore.
Anime girl image from Deviantart.com by Dandoan
About the Author: Emmy Stratford is a traditionalist when it comes to her animated films, but she has been known to enjoy anime from time to time.