As with anything from an alien culture, there will always be things in Anime and Manga that are very strongly Japanese.  Whether frequently used terms or words that have crossed over into English speaking fan circles or traditions and everyday things that seem strange to Western fans.  Some hardcore fans use these differences as a barrier to exclude those less zealous than themselves, which is something we find particularly annoying about fan culture.  Therefore we have constructed (and will continue to add to) this guide to these little quirks and 'fanspeak' Japanese terms that will hopefully help people understand them better.  Please click on the buttons below to be taken to the relevant section, we start with a Glossary...


Alien Nine

We do get asked questions sometimes about anime and manga (believe it or not) and we thought it'd be a good idea to give an area where we can display our answers to them.  This is in no particular order so please feel free to have a look through.  If you have any question please e mail us with them (refer to e mail address at the foot of the page) and we will attempt to answer them.

Q. Why do some pictures in my graphic novel appear in a different tone to the rest of the book?

A. When graphic novels are released in Japan the first few pages of a graphic novel are in colour.  However, when translated into English the entire novel will often be released in monochrome to save money, leading to the difference in tone in opening pictures and at the start of some chapters.

Occasionally some graphic novels will keep the opening colour pages – such as Akira.  Up until recently this was a rare occurrence but ADV’s new manga publications have the opening pages in colour.

Q. Why are some English manga printed the wrong way round?

A. These have been reprinted in the Japanese format of reading right-to-left instead of the Western style of left-to-right.  Reprinting this way means that images will not be ‘flipped’ – the images will be reversed which leads to picture being the mirror opposite of it’s original print.  This does occasionally lead to mistakes of words or items in background appearing backwards.  Many Western mangas are now reprinted in the Japanese style, as it has proven very popular with fans.

Q. What does OAV stand for?

A. ‘Original Animation Videos’. This is anime created especially for the DVD and VHS formats and is not broadcast on TV or in cinemas. These are very popular in Japan as they are often extensions of a TV anime series that has finished and the fans have demanded more, so the OAV will be aimed specifically at these fans.  Also known as OVA or ‘original video animation’.

Q. Why do school kids wear sailor suits?

A. This is the standard uniform across Japan.  They date back to 19th century Prussia, which is the country Japan based its education system on.

Q. In some evening scenes in anime there's a humming noise in the background, what is this?

A. In Japan there is an insect called a Cicada which, when in large groups, produce this noise with it’s chirping.  It’s basically the Japanese equivalent of a Grasshopper and it can be heard whenever there is warm weather.

Q. Why do anime and manga characters sweat so often?

A. The characters are not hot but simply embarrassed, confused, uncomfortable or in the middle of an awkward silence.  Japanese people are often too polite to say what they are thinking and sweat represents their discomfort.

Q. Why do so many male characters have nosebleeds?

A. In anime and manga a nosebleed represents sexual excitement (it is thought to be a substitute for ejaculation), which is why it often happens when male characters walk in on females taking a bath...

Q. Why does an ‘X’ or ‘+ sign’ appear so often on characters foreheads?

A. This represents a throbbing vein in the character's forehead, showing their frustration or imminent outburst of anger 

Q. Characters are nude quite often.  Why is that?

A. Nudity isn’t as big a deal in Japan as it is in the West, communal baths are common and there's also the fan service to take in to account (see Glossary) so to see a character taking a bath or getting changed is not seen as unusual or gratuitous.  However, sex in anime will only be shown on TV in Japan at night.

Q. Why do characters appear without pubic hair?

A. In Japan it is taboo to show pubic hair on film - animated or otherwise.  Generally sexual organs are censored out with pixilation in Japanese anime, but this censorship is removed on western releases.  However, because the creators knew it would be censored it is often the case that they don't bother drawing pubic hair in or draw the whole area badly.  This is one of the reasons that characters in 'Hentai' films often seem younger than they are meant to be.  Pubic hair is occasionally seen in anime but it is rare.

Q.  Some anime and manga is published by Viz, is this the same Viz that do the UK comic?

A.  No.  Most definitely not.  Viz Comics/Viz Video is an American publishing and distribution company that happens to share its name with the, errr... 'hilarious' UK comic.  It is possible that this fact has helped in preventing the US Viz from ever releasing anime here (there are probably copyright issues over the name)...

If you have any questions regarding anime and manga then please e-mail them to us at webmaster@animetion.co.uk and we will do our best to answer them.