Okazu Glossary of Terms

March 2nd, 2008

There is a certain amount of jargon and lingo involved in any niche interest; technical terms, fan slang, nicknames, cultural terms, etc. In the case of Yuri manga and anime, we also have a load of Japanese terms to deal with. And, as my readers know, I have coined some specific shorthand terms of my own that have been or currently being used on Okazu.

So, to provide a topic of discussion, a reference for future posts and a way of avoiding having to answer “what does xyz mean?” questions over and over, I’ve pulled out an old glossary we did for Onna! in 2005, updated and adapted it for readers of Okazu.

I have tried to be as general and understanding of language fluidity as possible, but my own biases will surely be apparent. This glossary represents *my* understanding of these terms on this date. These terms are always subject to opinion, change, linguistic drift and other factors, so please don’t bother informing me that that Wikipedia says different. (Thanks to Ana for clarification on moe.) And as time passes, some of these terms may become more or less used here on Okazu.

Anime: Pron. (ah-nee-may). A French word used by the Japanese to describe animation of all kinds. US fans of Japanese animation often use anime to describe Japanese works only.

Bian: Pron. (bee-ahn) Short for “Lesbian,” used primarily by the Japanese Lesbian community, since Rezu has a negative connotation, similar to that of “les” or “lesbo” in English. Related terms: Girls’ Love; Femmeslash; Yuri; Onna-doushi

Bishoujo: Pron. (bee-show-joe). Japanese for “Beautiful girl.” Refers to extremely good-looking girls featured in a series. Also used to describe a genre of games for males, which feature dating and/or sexual relationships simulations. Related terms: LFB; Moe (Not on this list, but related “Bijin”; Beautiful person, can be woman or man.)

Bishounen: Pron. (bee-show-nen). Japanese for “Beautiful boy.” Bishounen are artistically and often femininely rendered young men. Frequently shortened to “bishie” by western fandom. Related terms: LFG; Fujyoshi, (Not on this list but related Biseinen, for “beautiful man.”)

Boys’ Love: Current term, coined by Japanese publishers, for stories that feature male/male relationships. This term includes both sexual and romantic stories and is often shorted to BL. Related terms: Yaoi; Shounen-ai

Butch: In lesbian culture, a woman who looks and/or acts in a manner commonly understood as “masculine.” Related term: Tachi

Circle: A group of people who work together to produce doujinshi, games, novels or other works; some circles create parody material, others original. Related terms: Doujinshi

Doujinshi: Pron. (dough-jin-shee) Small-press or self-published works. Doujinshi are sometimes parodies of existing anime, manga, novels, games and even popular celebrities, but are also often original works. In Japan, there is a well-accepted undermarket of these works which often violate copyright as it is understood in the west. Related terms: Circle; Fan Art, Fanfic

EPL: Evil Psychotic Lesbian. Term coined by Erica to describe her favorite kind of character.

Fanart: Art based on copyrighted characters and situations, done by fans (usually not with the creator’s permission). Also written as Fan Art. Related terms: Doujinshi

Fanfic: Stories based on copyrighted characters and situations, written by fans (usually not with the creator’s permission). Also called Fan Fiction, or Fanfiction. Related terms: Doujinshi

Femme: In lesbian culture, a woman who looks and/or acts in manner commonly understood as “feminine.” Related term: Neko

Femmeslash: Stories by fans of western series that include female/female romantic or sexual relationships. Also written F/F. Related terms: Fanfic; Fanart; Shoujo-ai; Yuri; Slash; Girls’ Love; Onna-doushi

The Friedman Addendum to the Bechdel Test:

Does female character have agency?
Does she have society?
Does she have personality?
Is she merely a female-shaped male hero doing male hero things while being female?

Based on a correspondence with Alison Bechdel about media that pass the letter of the Bechdel Test, but not the spirit of the test. Erica has formulated these sentences to determine if a character is truly a “strong female” or just a woman doing male hero things in a skin-tight bodysuit. See: It’s A Woman’s World: Bodacious Space Pirates, Maria-sama ga Miteru and The Bechdel Test for reference.

Fujyoshi: Female otaku, stereotypically obsessive over BL comics and related goods. They are seen on the streets of Japan and at comic events dragging small suitcases along behind them. Related terms: LFG

Girls’ Love: An analogue for Boys’ Love, Girls’ Love is sometimes used by Japanese publishers to create a new bookstore category for what is known in the west as Yuri series. Related terms: Yuri; Shoujo-ai; Boys’ Love; Femmeslash

Hentai: Pron. (hen-tie) Also called “H.” Hentai series are sexually explicit, with a focus on extremeness and fetishism, but the term is often used by western fandom to describe anything pornographic.

Josei: Pron. (joe-say) Animation and comics targeted to young women (high school to adulthood.) Josei series often include sexual relationships, but often focus on work-life balances, relationships and family, as well.

Ladies’ Comics: Pron. (ray-deezu koh-meek-kusu) Rediizu Komikkusu, i.e., Ladies’ comics, refer to manga targeted to adult females. These are mostly sexually explicit. Related term: OL Comics

LFB: Loser FanBoy. This is a term originally coined by Erica (who now uses Service instead) as an analogue to the Japanese word otaku since, in general, western fandom uses otaku as a term of pride. LFBs often have poorly developed interpersonal skills and/or interaction with the opposite sex and, therefore, have a tendency to see Yuri wherever two or more females exist in a series regardless of relationship, or any interest or desire between them. Saying a Yuri media is LFB-focused means the story is written with strong salaciousness and male gaze. Related term: Otaku, Service

LFG: Loser FanGirl. This is a term coined by Erica (who now uses Service instead) as an analogue to the Japanese word fujyoshi. LFGs are generally characterized by squealing and bouncing up and down in paroxysms of anime-, manga-, doujinshi- or goods-related ecstasy. Related term: Fujyoshi, Service

LGBTQ: Short for “Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans,Queer,” LGBT is a reasonably inclusive acronym for sexual/gender minorities and topics of interest to them. It is also sometimes expanded to include “A” for Asexual and/or Allies and/or “I” for Intersexed. Related, but not on this list: Sexual and Gender Minorities

Mahou: Pron. (mah-hoe) Japanese for “magic” in the witch/wizard sense. Mahou Shoujo = “magical girl.” This is the best-known subgenre of girls’ anime and manga, and refers to any series featuring a female protagonist who uses magical powers. Related terms: Shoujo

Manga: Pron. (mahn-gah) “Loose pictures.” Japanese term for comics and comic books. Also called Komikkusu.

Mangaka: Pron. (mahn-gah-kah) Person who creates manga. Related terms: Manga

Moe: Pron. (moe-eh) Moe comes from the verb moeru, “to bud or sprout,” used to describe the adoration of a “budding cuteness,” ie. young, innocent girls about to sprout (reach puberty, per se.) “Moe” from “moeru” “to burn” is a cognate, and sometimes used as a pun. It was originally coined to describe intolerable adorableness that made you want to explode, but was picked up by otaku who like anime and manga featuring children in eroticized situations. Moe characters tend to be young and/or drawn in a very cute, but sexual or sensual, way. Now the term has become generalized to anything that an otaku finds him/herself passionate about. Related terms: LFB; Bishoujo; Otaku

Mook: Pron. (moo-ku) Short for “magazine book,” mooks are glossy magazines that contain many art images. Newtype is an example of a popular anime-related mook.

Neko: Pron. (neh-koh). Possibly from the Japanese terms nemu + ko, “the girl one sleeps with.” Neko in a lesbian relationship is the woman who takes the female role. Neko also means cat in Japanese and there is likely to be some connection to the colloquial use of “pussy” and the fact that cats expect to be taken care of. Related terms: Femme

Nioi-ke: Pron. (nee-oy-keh) Something that “smells” like Yuri or BL, but isn’t really.

Nonke: Pron. (non-keh) A straight person, someone who is not “one of the family.” “Ke” is the same kanji as “house” (家) that is used for Mangaka or Judoka, or House of Windsor. (I.e., also “otaku.”) Use of “nonke” is indicative of the person speaking being “one of us,” that is to say, part of the LGBTQ community.

OL Comics: OL is short for “Office Ladies” This subgenre of Ladies’ Comics usually features women in a semi-subservient position in a Japanese company. (OLs serve tea, change light bulbs and do many other menial tasks around Japanese offices. Some women take positions as OLs just to find a good husband.) OL Comics are commonly sexually explicit. Related term: Ladies’ Comics

Onna-doushi: Pron. (ohn-nah doe-shee) Onna-doushi means “women together.” Like Onna x Onna or Onna no ko x Onna no ko the term Onna-doushi is used by some lesbian circles to denote manga or dounjinshi stories with lesbian content, as opposed to Yuri. This term is similar to the western term F/F. Related terms: Shoujo-ai; Girls’ Love; Femmeslash; Yuri

Onnazuki: Pron. (ohn-nah-zoo-kee) Onnazuki means “woman lover,” and is often used to describe a person (most often male) who “loves” the idea of women, but isn’t so good at actually relating to them or getting a date, etc. A person who spends more time with time with bishoujo games and dating sims than actual women is likely to be onnazuki.

Otaku: Pron. (oh-tah-koo) This is a derogatory term Japanese people use to refer to people who collect or are fans of something obsessively, and who often have poor social skills and personal hygiene. Many Japanese anime and manga fans use it to describe themselves, often as a self-deprecatory joke. In western fandom, the word is used to describe anime and manga fans in general, and is often used with pride.

Reba: Pron. (ree-bah) Short for “reverse,” this Japanese term means women who switch between tachi and neko roles. Related terms: Tachi; Neko

Scenery Porn: A term coined by Sean Gaffney to describe long, lingering shots of well-animated scenery.

Service: A shortened form of the word “Fanservice”, which means “tropes, artistic and thematic styling added in to “serve” the perceived audience. For instance, a BL-audience might wish to see the male character shirtless, or a male audience might wish to have extended periods of thigh-gazing at schoolgirls in an anime. “Service” can be any quality that is added in to a series to “serve” the fetishes of the target audience, from a woman in a suit to a schoolgirl uniform that highlights secondary sexual characteristics. On Okazu, an overall Service score has now replaced both LFG and LFB scores for general, rather than specific, salaciousness.

Seinen: Pron. (say-nen) Animation and comics targeted to young men (late high school through early twenties.) They often are sexually explicit, but just as often dysfunctional, filled with fetishism over functional emotional and sexual relationships.

Seme: Pron. (seh-meh) The aggressor or instigator of a sexual relationship. Analogous, but not identical, to the western term “Top.”

Shoujo: Pron (show-joe) Also (incorrectly) spelled shojo. Shoujo is Japanese for “girl” and may be used on Okazu to refer to animation and comics targeted to girls. Shojo means “maiden” or “virgin,” not “girl.”

Shoujo-ai: Pron. (show-joe-eye) A term, coined by western BL fans, to describe series featuring female/female romantic relationships, as opposed to sexual relationships, as a way to distance themselves from the term Yuri. This term is not used in Japan, but is a literal translation of “Girls’ Love” which *is* being used in Japan, primarily by publishers. Related terms: Yuri; Girls’ Love; Femmeslash; Onna-doushi; Yuri

Shounen: Pron. (show-nen). Also (incorrectly) spelled shonen. Animation and comics targeted to boys.

Shounen-ai: Pron. (show-nen eye) An out-of-date term, sometimes (mostly formerly) used in the west by BL fans to denote “romantic” as opposed to “sexual” male/male relationships, but in Japan the phrase is used to denote adult males who like young boys. Related terms: Yaoi; Boys’ Love;

Slash: Stories by fans of western series pairing male characters in homosexual romantic or sexual relationships. The term comes from the phrase “Kirk/Spock.” Also written M/M. Related terms: Femmeslash; Yaoi; Shounen-ai;

SPCD: Stupid Plot Complication Disorder. A term coined jokingly by Erica to cover all unbelievable medical and behavioral disorders – like getting a deadly fever because one was out in the rain, or not being able to see men – used by anime and manga series to drive the story in the absence of a plot.

Story A: A term coined by Erica to describe the basic schoolgirl Yuri story plot in which a girl meets a girl, they realize they like each other, the end.

Tachi: Pron. (tah-chee) From the Japanese term tachiyaku, the player of a male role in Kabuki. In lesbian relationships, tachi “play” the male role. Related terms: Butch

Tankoubon: Pron. (tan-koh-bohn) A collected volume of manga chapters. Usually five or so chapters of a serialized manga make up a tankoubon. Related term: Manga

Uke: Pron. (Oo-keh). The receiver or seductee, in a sexual relationship. Similar, but not identical to, the western term “Bottom.”

Yaoi: Pron. (yah-oh-ee or yah-oy) Comes from “YAmanashi, Ochinashi, Iminashi” (“No climax, no ending, no meaning.”) Originally used by western BL fans to denote series featuring sexually graphic male/male relationships, as opposed to romantic ones, but now used to describe the entire genre. No longer commonly used in Japan, where the term “Boys’ Love” has superseded it. Related terms: Boys’ Love, Shounen-ai; Slash

Yuri: Pron. (you-ree) Japanese for “lily.” From the word Yurizoku, (“lily tribe”) coined in the 70s to describe lesbians. Formerly used in the west to denote series with explicit female/female sexual relationships, but now more often used to refer to any work that contains a lesbian character or relationship, whether sexual or romantic. Yuri  as a genre, is the only genre of Japanese anime and manga that has roots in all of the demographic genres, and can be found in all genres. The symbolism of the lily is common in lesbian as well as non-lesbian created works that include lesbian themes. Related terms: Shoujo-ai; Girls’ Love; Femmeslash; Onna-doushi

Yuri Goggles: A phrase jokingy coined by Erica for the process through which fans make Yuri where there is little or none in the actual series. Similar to “beer goggles,” Yuri goggles make a series or a couple seem more Yuri the higher you turn them up.

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39 Responses

  1. Shoujofan says:

    Great glossary. It’s really good and very useful. Just a suggestion: explain why the use of “shojo” and not “shoujo” is wrong. Most people does not know the reason.

    Keep on your good work!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for this glossary! I totally ignored the existence of ‘Neko’ and ‘Tachi’.
    Oh, and what about the term ‘onnazuki’? I’ve heard it a few times, but I don’t know if it’s supposed to be neutral or not.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t it “animé”? “animè” is a different pronunciation.

  4. anonymous – thanks for the correction, my French is pretty much nonexistent.

    anonymous – I imagine that onnazuki means women lover, but I’m not familiar with it otherwise. It’s not a term used in the Yuri world.

  5. shoujofan – I left out the distinction between shoujo and shojo, because it really wasn’t relevant to the definition.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Very useful glossary,Thanks for this..

  7. On animé & animè neither is actually right for discussing Japanese animation as the Japanese word is not from the French but a contraction of the English word. For this reason anime without accent marks is an accurate spelling.

    Great blog, I just stumbled upon it a few minutes ago while doing some research.

  8. Secret Yuri says:

    Wow, for a newcomer to Yuri, this is wonderful! While I have always watched Yuri and anime off and on, I am just beginning to really delve into it and understand it on a deeper level. Thanx!

  9. JRB says:

    I’d point out that tachi/neko are also used in the context of gay male relationships; some academic whose name I forget insists that neko comes from o-nē-san (“big sister”), apparently a common term for feminine men, and I’ve seen tachiyaku translated as both “sword bearer” and “standing role” (i.e., actors, as opposed to musicians, who perform seated).

  10. @JRB – This is the first time I’ve ever heard of those terms being used by Japanese gay men. Do you have any source material for that? I know they are quite common in the Japanese lesbian world.

  11. JRB says:

    @Erica – The main cites I can think of offhand would be the various academic papers from Mark McLelland, Wim Lunsing and others (some of which you may be able to get through Google Scholar), and McLelland’s two books, Male homosexuality in modern Japan: Cultural myths and social realities and Queer Japan from the Pacific war to the internet age.

  12. @JRB – I’ve read Mark’s stuff, but don’t remember him commenting on that. I’ll double check when I have an opportunity.

    The link with “sword” is clear as a cognate, but I’m hesitant to assign it an etymology unless I have some better documentation. :-)

  13. JRB says:

    Addendum to previous post: You can get quite a large preview of the two McLelland books through Google Books; searchable, too. Really, Google is one of the best things to happen to academia in a long time.

  14. Anonymous says:

    “On animé & animè neither is actually right for discussing Japanese animation as the Japanese word is not from the French but a contraction of the English word. For this reason anime without accent marks is an accurate spelling.”

    Yeah, save the accent marks for stuff like this:

    “Franimé, or Japanese-French animation, had its roots with Herge’s たんたん, a popular comic strip about a flying atomic robot boy reporter and his chibi-mascot poodle, Yukikun. The most well known Franimé in America is DragonGaul Z*, the adventures of a warrior named Asterix as he travels the Roman Empire in search of the seven mysterious dragon balls created by the wizard Getafix-sensei. Another one is Totally Spies: Evangelion.”

    (from http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/Japan-France )

  15. Anonymous says:

    Could the Western term ‘bromance’ be applied to male nioi-kei series?

  16. Sapphire says:

    I remember reading this post about 2 years ago when I was new to anime and Yuri anime in particular. Rereading this post makes much more sense now! I also gained a new found love for doujins and josei.

    Thanks a lot for your hard work Erica! Btw, Yuri goggles has to be my fav term! My friends and I use it all the time! Excellent!

  17. The idea that our familiar term anime derives from the French phrase dessin animé is a false etymology, anyway. The Oxford English Dictionary, up until recently, even recorded this, but fortunately the etymological explanation has been changed:

    “Etymology: < Japanese anime animation (1970 or earlier), shortened < animēshon (1959 or earlier) < English animation n."

    アニメ (anime) is an abbreviation of アニメーション (animēshon = animation), and the Japanese use it as such.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Coined by you. Yeah sure.

  19. @Anonymous – I’ve been writing about Yuri since 2002. If you can find someone who used any of these terms before me, I’ll rescind my claim. ^_^

  20. Well, here at Okazu since 2002. Since 1997, if we include Usenet.

  21. Tim says:

    Hi.

    I just found your blog and was excited to find something discussing Yuri in such detail. But then i stumbled over the term “Loser Fanboy”, which really put me off, even after reading your definition. (Yes, i am male. Yes i am slightly offended. Do i fit that description? Hardly.) From what i gathered, it is used in reviews to point out erotic or action-oriented content, or “moe” – because no girl might like that. There is a tendency on message boards to give everyone who happens to disagree or have another taste a label, which is supposed to disqualify him/her for the discussion. You managed to combine two of the labels most used for that (loser and fanboy).

    Yeah, i saw there is also “Loser Fangirl”, but that’s term is just as bad, only gender-flipped. On a yaoi blog it would probably be considered highly offensive by a majority.

    It comes across terribly arrogant. Basically it seems to say “I don’t want anyone who doesn’t appreciate Yuri the same way i do to read it or my blog.” If that’s what the Yuri fan community is like, I’ll go back to reading my Morinaga Milk manga quietly.

  22. @Tim – So noted.

    I think LFB is a terrific description of what “otaku” means in Japanese.

    So if you’re not the opinionated, obnoxious guy demanding his God-given right to objectify women for his pleasure or who is too clueless to understand the difference between two female characters who love each other like sisters and two who want to sleep together, then it really shouldn’t be a problem, since it doesn’t describe you.

    I can’t help that you feel attacked by it. That’s in you, not me. I am very willing to label myself LFErica when it warrants in my reviews, because I like to avoid delusion as much as possible.

    Unfortunately, your discomfort isn’t really something I have control over. I do have control over my own vocabulary, on my blog, and I’m afraid I’m going to continue to use the term because it makes sense to me to do so.

    This is a terrific time for self-reflection as to why a term that you are sure doesn’t describe you causes you so much discomfort. Or you can just call me a rude name, or something, if it makes you feel better. Whatever works for you.

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