What the heck do Yashigani and Yandere mean?

Despite being a hikikomori, I was talking to a gothic lolita fujoshi otaku with a shota complex at an imouto cosplay cafe about her favorite moe aspect of the loli tsundere maid meganekko from a real robot mecha OAV gaiden based on the doujinshi eroge game she was playing that was thankfully not guro.

I have no idea what is going on.

That just proves you are sane and healthy human being. If you understood that whole last sentence without needing to click on any other links, then you should consider yourself a high-level anime fan. That and it should be a crystal clear indication that anime fans love to come up with their own little terms for almost any aspect of their hobby. From minor niche fetishes, to broad stroke trends, it seems anime fans on both sides of the Pacific love to label things with some new word that is often incomprehensible to anyone not in the know.

I just think labeling has gotten out of hand! It is like when a three-year-old learns a new word, so they say that word all the time and about everything. Of course three-year-olds are just excited but some fans can get very excluding when you don’t know these terms. I freely admit to not knowing moe or tsundere up until about 6 or 7 months ago and ya know something? I wish I didn’t know them. They are over used in general but also I think they are completely misused at the same time. Many of these terms refer to fetish characteristics and I don’t think they always apply to everything everywhere at every moment. Many series have characters that are just that characters, they are not created for the sexual enjoyment of some branch of fetish. Just because people are attracted to them doesn’t mean they were created for the sole purpose of arousal.

In general, any hobby tends to come up with terms for ease of talking to other people who are into the same thing. This is doubly true for nerdy hobbies like comics and animation. Nerds love jargon. The ability to say one word and get a complex idea across is often helpful and convenient. The main problem is when you streamline and over-simply things too much. If you lazily thrown around terms instead of engaging in articulate conversation then such shorthand phrases are a handicap. I know on occasion Narutaki will catch me doing this and make me actually lay out my point instead of relying on some obscure term.

I think I don’t make myself very clear when talking so I have to rely on laying things out because there is no way anyone would understand me otherwise. But you are right, geeks are always using inner circle language. I think that must have to do with the odd circle of geeks being separate from the average people but then further obscuring themselves by being completely incoherent to anyone except other geeks.

The main problem is, there is a recent trend of making fetish characters solely based around said fetish. Then add the fact that more complex characters are often simplified by fans into one note characters. I think we both use terms like mecha, doujinshi, cosplay, and hentai all the time. I think it’s terms like moe and yandere that really get under your skin. The other difficulty with labeling things come in by virtue of the fact that we tend to use terms differently than they do in Japan. This can lead to some rather heated arguments about what is the correct usage. When do you foster a new definition of a word for a different environment and when do you make sure you maintain the purity of a word?

This is true, it starts getting picked apart and then what are you left with? There should be some official otaku dictionary. Now that I am really thinking of all the terms used in anime fandom I guess I do use a whole lot. It’s funny how they seem so natural some of them. Like I’m thinking “That’s not a term, everyone knows that!” I am so wrong.

When we were at the Otaku USA panel at NYAF, the main topic of discussion was if the use of otaku in the title of the magazine was an appropriate title for an anime magazine. In the U.S., people wear the title of otaku as a badge of honor. In Japan, it means that you are a obsessive about some topic. That topic is most often anime but not necessarily so. It has a distinctly negative connotation. It is a clear cut example of a loan word whose connotation has changed with the transfer from one language to another.

This discussion was totally fruitless. I started to get annoyed after the third time it was brought up. We were at an anime convention, everyone there identifies with the word otaku, end of story.

Interestingly enough, it seems like adult content has the biggest discrepancy between how Americans and the Japanese use certain terms. In America, yaoi is a catch all phrase for any manga or anime that has explicit sex between two men and shonen-ai is when the relationship is not as explicit. In Japan, yaoi generally only refers to doujinshi about any type of homosexual relationships written for a female audience. Shonen-ai in Japan only refers to a very specific genre of stories about prepubescent boys falling in love. The term shonen-ai is unused, generally considered a dead genre, and associated with pedophilia. Most of the non-doujinshi related homosexual comics written for women is called BL or Boys Love comics. Yuri and shojo-ai being the lesbian equivalents in the U.S. have the same general situation of being disconnected to their original Japanese.

I wonder if it really just comes down to the fact that we took Japanese words, because let’s face it we think it sounds cool, and then we thought we totally knew what they meant but we didn’t. And the definition just stuck. I think that is probably how it all went down. However, I have to admit to using shonen-ai in the incorrect way. But I actually like the way it has been coined here because I like to know if what I’m getting is explicit or not.

That is a very sound theory. Now that the internet has made finding out information about anime so much easier you see less people misusing words like they would have in the past. In the old days it was like an international and intercontinental game of telephone. American anime fans would try to decipher what terms they could from imported materials. The amount of materials was often so limited American fans were often forced to interpolate from what little data they had. I’m sure that this lead to a lot of the differences in terms we have today.

The question comes down to this: where do we draw the line? When do we stop labeling things? When do stop people from using loan words? When do we halt words from being modified when the are imported from other languages. In my opinion, you get into trouble if you try to make an unbreakable rule on labeling in general. Languages drift, borrow, and modify words all the time. The Japanese borrow words from English all the time, making subtle to complete changes. English itself is mostly made of loan words from other languages. There is a famous quote by James Nicoll, “The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary. “I feel that it all comes down to how useful is any new word or redefinition. The modification of anime I feel is a useful and important modification.

Stop labeling things right now (well not really)! Many classifications are important, like genre classification for example. However, if we just start throwing terms around willy-nilly I think you stop looking at the show and just look at its classification. The same goes with characters. Of course there are archetypes that are commonly used over and over again, but giving all characters a one word description is damaging. Aren’t people just breaking down characters a little too simply? Sure there are many that fall straight into the definition of these terms like tsundere, moe, yandere but there are lots of well-developed characters that may only be exhibiting some traits of these labels. I guess I just want a more well-developed discussion to go on.

P.S. Yashigani means an episode of an anime with extremely rushed and sloppy animation. Yandere is a character who seems sweet and shy but is coldblooded and psychopathic on the inside.
P.P.S. Nagi Sanzenin is a loli tsundere otaku hikikomori ojou-sama. Is that not so moe? : )

Narutaki Currently!
Watching Spice and Wolf
Reading Kekkaishi
Listening to aiko

Hisui (Brainwasher Detective) Currently:
Watching Hayate the Combat Butler
Reading Shonan Junai-gumi
Listening to Hayate no Gotoku! by KOTOKO

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