In part one, I gave you basic definitions and genres. In this part, I’m going to give more specific ones linked to content. Again, this is an informal series of posts. This post was edited for length, and part of the original post was split off into part three.
An Otaku is a fan, in the sense of “geek.” Think highly knowledgable, clued-in, to the point of obsession. Otaku can be fans of many different things: anime, manga, games, trains, firearms, stereo speakers, live action shows, and more. Otaku tend to have negative associations in the sense of nerd, too; socially withdrawn, boorish, ill-kempt, and worse. It’s changing some, but this still exists in depiction of them in anime and manga.
The iconic image of them is an overweight guy with a backpack stuffed full of anime and manga who wipes the sweat off of his brow with a hankie. Think comic book guy from the Simpsons, but with less social confidence. This again is a stereotypical visual image; often played for laughs in anime or manga is the startling attractive man or woman who secretly is a fan of magical girl anime, which he frantically hides at opportunity. A very good manga depicting an Otaku is Maniac Road, in which one has to take over a small electronics store. It can be NSFW though.
Growing in popularity is a related term, Fujoshi. The literal translation means “rotten girl”. Used incorrectly or very loosely, it can refer to a female fan. Used correctly, it’s a fan of “Boy’s Love” manga and yaoi. A western example would be that girl you know that LOVES Harry Potter but spends way too much time writing fan fiction where he and Draco Malfoy hook up and get married while a character suspiciously resembling the girl in question eggs them on.
A GREAT example of fujoshi is in My Girlfriend is a Geek, in which an average guy has to deal with the very cute older girlfriend he is dating is one. It’s very balanced, and it’s quite the contrast to Maniac Road, while being similar to it at the same time.
Both Otaku and Fujoshi love Doujinshi, or Doujin works.
Japan has a different idea of intellectual property than we do. It’s perfectly fine for fans to make derivative works based on popular cultural things. Remember fujoshi girl above? In Japan, she could take her HP story, leave it as is, and publish it for sale. The fan culture and official culture are fairly porous, and there aren’t the laws or even the stigma against fan works there as here.
There’s some problems though. Doujinshi can often be pornographic, same as fan fiction. Generally, fan works are a tremendous minefield for the Christian due to this, as you may find out a manga exists about your favorite game, look it up, and realize you are watching the characters knock boots. Be very careful if not avoid completely.
The anime Comic Party can help explain the concept.
You sell Doujinshi at Comiket. If you are a geek, think San Diego Comicon-it’s that big if not more. If you aren’t, it’s a gigantic convention held multiple times in the year. Comiket is held in a very distinctive building, sort of a reverse triangle structure, and if you notice it, that is what they are alluding to. Comiket’s wiki is here, and to attend it is the holy grail of fan or fan artists.
The artist of a manga is called a manga-ka, by the way.
Honorifics are something that the western fan may struggle with. Japan is a very hierarchial nation, and there are suffixes and terms used that define status in specific ways.
-san is a standard, polite greeting.
-chan is a diminutive greeting used for young women and kids. It implies cuteness. You’d get punched in the face calling a guy this.
-tan is the equivalent of a young kid calling you “Hey, Mwister!” It’s a lisp used by young children, and is often in Moe anime. Moe I’ll define later.
-sama is a very respectful greeting. Mistress Emily will see you now.
-dono is very respectful greeting, but with lordship connotations. King versus Queen, roughly.
No honorific means the person is very close to you. Really close.
Family members have their own terms:
Obasan-Aunt or grandmother
Okasan-Uncle or grandad
Otosan-dad (polite.) Chichi is informal, but please correct me on this.
Okaasan-mom (polite.) Haha is informal.
Other ones you might hear:
Sempai/Kohei-Used when there is a social distance between them. In anime, a Senior in high school would be Sempai to a junior’s Kohai, or a grizzled vet of a police officer would be Sempai to the new officer on the force’s kohai. Sort of a term of mutual respect but acknowledging status difference. Tough to explain, please feel free to correct me.
Aniki-This means big brother, but has connotations of respect, obligation, or loyalty. It can be used by Yakuza (japanese mafia,) or tough guys and girls as big brother, kind of in the sense of boss. The actual term for boss in that sense though would be Oyabun. Thanks to Murasaki Lynna for the correction.
Albert Chamomile in Negima Magister Magi calls Negi Springfield “aniki.”
Next are some types of anime, based more on content.
Harem anime usually are about one boy dealing with the romantic affections of several girls. A Reverse Harem switches the gender. One girl, lots of boys. Ironically, it’s very rare that any actual sexual activity happens in these anime. Just a lot of angst and meaningful glances.
Mecha is one of the terms that most non-fans now. Robot anime. Can be transforming, can not be.
Mecha-Musume deserves a mention. -Musume means young girl, and usually that type of anime anthropomorphizes things like trains, robots, or in insane cases, soft drink cans. Mecha musume takes a giant robot and turns it into a fetching young girl.
Ecchi manga or anime means “nasty.” It’s perverted, yet not pornographic. Imagine Porky’s, or American Pie.
Hentai is pornographic. That’s actually an american neologism, the actual word means Pervert. I believe the Japanese term used is Ero, like in Eroge, erotic games. For a Christian, of course you are not going to like all three.
Sometimes anime can be based on what’s called a visual novel. It’s a type of game which interactivity is mostly from a series of choices, and it’s more about experiencing a story. Visual novels tend to include dating sims, in which the goal is to romance one of many girls. Think interactive harem games where you pick the winner. Not all are though, as some can be horror too.
Chaos;Head is a modern anime that really catches the visual novel feel.
Other anime are based on Light Novels. Think our own YA books, novels targeted to younger people. Both can often lead to Moe works. Moe I will define at length in part three.
Many anime or manga can have fan service, in which things are added to an anime or manga just because the fans like them. It can mean sex, nudity, violence, or even things like detailed illustrations of mecha, weapons, or cars.
One last thing would be scans, or scanlations. Many manga don’t reach the USA, and there is an army of fans who make it a mission to bring them over here. Many sites host these scans. Actual manga companies use them as a seedbed of what’s cool or not, and then license the works to publish. Sites then pull the scans in order that people support the companies. for anime, fansubs or fandubs are the same thing.
Be very careful! Violence and sexuality issues are still present, and on sites that host these, it’s painfully easy to access 18+ pornographic manga with a few clicks. For a Christian with a kid into manga, it’s important to ask them what they are reading online, and there’s a good argument to forbid scan sites completely due to the inability to control content on them. Not that all of them are bad, but imagine a library where right next to the normal books, you had a gigantic erotica section, and anyone could pick up a series by pressing a button saying I am 18 or over.
Part three in this series will deal with two concepts which affect modern anime and manga, and need to be discussed at length there.
Honestly, if you haven’t seen from the definitions, it’s apparent than manga and anime have some serious minefields for the believer to deal with. I think in part four I will have to expand on these minefields, and on whether or not a believer can justify involvement with it at all. I am not writing this as someone who is a reformer or prohibitionist by nature, but like a Christian Horror fan wondering whether or not he should read Clive Barker, believers answer to God, and aren’t entirely even our own masters. More on this in the fourth post.
Please feel free to add any definitions I have missed.