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.
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
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
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
Fandumb: A term coined by Erica to describe the delusional obsession exhibited by fans of a particular series, character or genre. Fandumb get whipped up into frothing rages easily by any statement they disagree with, and are often insulting, but incoherently so.
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
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 being 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 through early twenties.) Josei series often include sexual relationships, sometimes explicit.
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 coined by Erica 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
LFG: Loser FanGirl. This is a term coined by Erica 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
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.
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.
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. Animation and comics targeted to girls.
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 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. In Japan, Yuri is still associated with lesbian porn for guys, but 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 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.