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Anime Glossary
(A mini dictionary of common anime-related terms)

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Anime: (pronounced 'annie-may'): Japanese Animation. Comes from the Japanese word for animation.

Baka: The Japanese word for "idiot" or "fool". A common Japanese (and as a result anime) insult (in fact it's one of the only ones), that has been picked up by English-speaking fans. Very commonly used in fanfics or just as an expression. The sentence version, "[name] no baka", is also relatively commonly used (probably picked up from Akane's frequent use of the phrase "Ranma no baka" in Ranma 1/2).

BGM: Background music. The music (usually insturmental) that you hear in the background of a show.

Cel: A single drawing used in animation. Cels are (usually) hand painted on a piece of transparent acetate and overlaid on a background picture to produce one frame of the animation we see. Cels are popular anime collectors' items, and can be bought from numerous web-based businesses.

Character Designer: The person who designs the look (face, hair, usually clothes) of each character in an animated production. Does a prototype for each character's facial expressions relating to different moods and emotions.

Con: Short for convention--an official gathering of anime vendors and fans.

Cosplay: A "Costume Play", a sort of amature theater in which fans dress up as favorite characters and enact scenes from anime, usually at conventions. This is an Americanization of a Japanization of "Costume Play"; that phrase was adopted by the Japanese and shortened into "Cosu-purei", which has been readopted into English as Cosplay (both versions have the same meaning).

Doujinshi: Doujinshi can mean several things. Most generally, it is an unofficial comic book (or other art, possibly digital), usually by an amature, that is based on characters not "owned" by the writer/artist. Somewhat like fanfiction. Depending on who publishes these, they can range from legitimate to completely illegal.

The second definition follows; the thing is, most Doujinshi are that way because they are about subjects that wouldn't be covered in the actual series--that is to say, adult topics. Again, these range from somewhat more mature versions to outright pornography, and from legit to illegal (usually the latter).

The third version is collections of (mostly erotic) amature art distributed in "underground" channels via disk (floppy, that is, and now the internet/usenet). Once in a while one of these artists will gain some noteriety and their works may make it to a CD ROM collection or something of the sort.

Dub: Re-recording the dialogue (and, at times, songs and sound effects) of a program with dialogue in another language. In the context of Anime, it means a Japanese show dubbed in English. Generally more popular than subtitled anime (though it depends on the series), some fans only like these, others ("purists") hate them with a passion, and a third group will accept either.

DVD: Digital Video Disc or Digital Versatile Disc (the industry can't seem to make up it's mind). You've probably heard of these--a CD sized disc, with enough space to store a full length movie in a digital format (about 133 minutes of MPEG-2 encoded video, if you're interested). More and more Anime is being released on DVDs (and this is a good thing). Note that DVDs provide for multiple audio tracks and subtitles that can be turned off, meaning that most American anime DVDs include both the subtitled and dubbed version.

Ecchi (sometimes written "H"): A Japanese word for "pervert" (though the connotations are somewhat more mild--see Hentai, below). Usually used by American fans to refer to anime and related art of an adult nature. Commonly used term on the web. Properly written H and usually read "Ecchi," this is an interesting bit of linguistics; the Japanese word for "pervert" is Hentai. This is sometimes abbreviated (by the Japanese) as H, which is, in turn, pronounced (again, by the Japanese) "ecchi".

Eyecatch: An image or very short bit of animation, usually including music and a series' title, that is usually inserted into the middle of each episode of a Japanese TV series (two halves of the eyecatch frame the mid-episode commercial break). Some newer OAVs also include these, though there would have been no commercial.

Fandub: A variant of the fansub, below, these are anime videos dubbed by fans. Very uncommon.

Fanfic: A story written by fans that involves characters from an existing anime series. Usually written in installments and published on the internet, the content ranges from story continuations to improbable situations to erotica.

Fansub: A video translated and subtitled by anime fans, rather than a professional company. They are of widely varying quality (from near-professional to barely watchable), and are usually distributed by fans willing to spend the time to copy and mail tapes for the cost of shipping and the blank video. Though quasi-legal, since they are only usually available for series that have not yet been translated into English "officially", and when done properly are not used to make a profit, they are generally accepted without much hassle, and are relatively popular with hardcore fans, as well as those who like uncut (and perhaps subtitled) versions of series such as Sailor Moon or Dragonball.

Fan Service: Usually used to mean, basically, stuff to titilate adolescent male fans. It mostly includes those shower/bath scenes that usually have little to do with the story but seem to be generally appreciated by the fans... or at least the teenaged male ones. Also can be used more generally (if less frequently) to refer to almost anything unrelated to the story but included to please fans--fancy outfits, flashy mecha, a cute animal, that sort of thing.

Hentai: The Japanese word for "pervert" (see Ecchi above, which is a milder form). It is commonly used by English-speaking fans to refer to pornographic anime (note that it usually has slightly stonger connotations than Ecchi). Also used occasionally (particularly on the web or in fanfics) as an insult, with the same meaning as it has in Japanese. For reference, the connotation of "Hentai" in Japanese is closer to the English "deviant" or "pervert", while "ecchi" is more like "lech" or "dirty", and generally much milder.
Image Album: A CD of music written to accompany a comic book. In Japan, popular comic series will frequently have CD of music produced for fans to listen to--a sort of soundtrack (and one more thing to buy, if you're a fanatic).

Japanime: Japanese Animation--see anime.

Japanimation: Japanese Animation--see anime.

Keyframe: A detailed animation cell drawn by one of the head artists producing animation. The space between keyframes is filled with more frames by other (lower paid) artists, producing a smooth transition from, say, one position to another.

LD: Laser Disc. Once popular with movie buffs in America, they were slightly more popular in Japan, but were particularly big with Japanese Anime fans--almost all animation in Japan ended up on a laser disc, and VHS tapes were (and are), in some cases, actually less popular. LDs can have two separate sound tracks, and anime LDs frequently included both the English dubbed and Japanese soundtracks, with subtitles available through closed captions. Due to the massive popularity of DVDs (and their relative advantages), LDs are very quickly dissappearing from the American video scene--no new anime is being released on LD in America these days. DVDs have not taken off in Japan with quite as much vigor as in the States, but while LDs are still around, DVDs are gaining ground very rapidly.

Lemon: A Japanese expression that has made it's way into the vocabulary of English-speaking fans; it is used to refer to "mature" content. For example, fanfics containing raunchy material or erotic scenes are frequently referred to as "lemony" or something similar. Also see Ecchi, although lemon usually has milder connotations.

Letterbox: Those black bars at the top and bottom of the screen that let a 4:3 width-to-height ratio TV display a movie filmed with a wider aspect-ratio (up to 16:9). Getting more and more common on video tapes in America. In anime, you will, of course, only see these on movies that were released theatrically in Japan (and even then, some movies weren't filmed in widescreen ratio).

Manga: In America, generally used to mean Japanese comic books. Occasionally also used (even by the Japanese) to refer to animation (as in Manga Video).

Magical Girl: There is some disagreement about the exact definition, but this term is generally used to refer to the genre of stories, geared toward younger (preteen) female viewers, involving a normal schoolgirl who is given magical powers (inevitably involving transformation of some sort) and expected to save the world. Some definitions focus more on the magical superhero-style powers, while others assume that being thrown into an alternate world as a savior is more important. Sailor Moon is the classic example, though the genre has been around since the 70s. The Japanese language version, mahou shoujo, is also occasionally used.

Mahou Shoujo: Japanese for Magical Girl; see above.

Mecha (pronounced 'meh ka', like the place): Comes from the Japanese word for mechanical, meka, which in turn came from English. It usually shows up in the credits of anime as "Mecha design", being the folks who design the look of the mechanical stuff in that anime. Among American anime fans, it is usually used a little more specifically to refer to the big robots that are so common in anime (Robotech and the like), but it can also be used to mean mechanical stuff in general (including cars, spaceships, and giant robots as well).

OAV: Original Animated Video. A sort of Anime miniseries produced to be released directly to video. Usually 4 to 8 parts, each one 30 to 45 minutes long. Frequently released two to a tape in America. Also called OVA.

OVA: Original Video Animation: see OAV, above.

Otaku: Japanese word used by English-speaking anime fans to refer to an avid anime fan. In Japanese it is more of an insult (having a lot of negative connotations) and more general. An "anime otaku" would be something like saying an "obsessive anime fanboy" in English, but you could also have a "mecha otaku" (person obsessed with mechanical stuff), a "computer otaku" (obsessed computer geek), or any other variety of otaku.

Ronin: The Japanese term for a samurai without a master. Basically, they wandered around looking for work as a hired sword, and have a sort of cool, "lone gunslinger" image--think Clint Eastwood. The most popular instance along those lines is probably the movie "Yojimbo," but there are many others, including plenty in anime.

SD: Short for "Super Deformed." This is the art style where everybody has really huge heads and tiny bodies; often used as a kind of self parody (for example, a few short comic strips at the end of a comic book).

Sub: Short for "subtitled"--used to refer to a subtitled Anime program. Generally less popular than dubbed anime, but preferred by some fans. See also: Dub, above.

Seiyuu: The Japanese word for voice actor (or actress). Common on the web.

Shojo: A style of artwork and story created for girls. Characterized by plots that focus on emotion and relationships and art that tends toward the florid, with lanky characters and rather effeminite (but always attractive) men. Mostly popular with teenagers in Japan, most shojo-style work has not spread widely, but it does occasionally spread (some examples are Revolutionary Girl Utena and Tokyo Babylon). Also written (most accurately) shoujo, most common uses are "shoujo manga", litterally meaning "girls' comics", and "shoujo anime" meaning "girls' animation."

TV series: You should know what this means, but some more detail: Japanese TV series are done in half-year long chunks of weekly episodes, without reruns. Series usually run 24 sequential half-hour episodes, with possible sequel series. Note that Japanese TV series, since they aren't usually aired out of order, frequently have a more coherent ongoing plot than American series, particularly in the case of animation.

VHS: You'd better know what this means.

Yaoi: Commonly used by English-speaking fans (particularly of the type who write fanfics) to refer to stories involving male-male relationships (generally between young, pretty herotypes).

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