You All Know the Terms: Otaku, Moe, Hentai, ETC…
It’s a right of passage for us in the anime community to learn these words, and others, as we engage with the medium we love so much as well as each other. However, there has been recent discussion, particularly from YouTube’s Digibro, about how necessary any of this terminology is. Given that, I thought I’d throw my two cents out there and see what you all thought on the topic as well.
For full context check out the following videos listed below. You don’t need to have seen these to understand the conversation, but it will provide some context for the discussion and my frame of mind when approaching this topic.
The Video That Started It All
His Response To Several Comments Regarding the Previous Video
The One I’d Watch, If you Were Only Going to Watch One
The Longest One
Originally sparked from his After Dark channel, Digibro argues that there is no real need for such technical jargon in the anime community by expressing the lack of a need for the term “hentai.” Instead, he argues that the term not be used altogether and instead refer to such titles as anime porn, since that’s what hentai is.
This then prompted a series of videos (listed above) discussing the necessity and purpose behind several of the terms used within the community. So the question is, are these terms and phrases really needed? Are they just a requirement for understanding the medium, or perhaps there just aren’t English equivalencies for these turn-of-phrase?
The answer is kind of complicated. To some extent I totally get where Digi and other community members are coming from. Some of the terms and phrases we as a community use are complicated and ill defined. This makes discussing anime much more complicated than it needs to be and alienates the “uninitiated” normal folk who may just be getting into anime for the first time.
Videos like Digi, and even blog here, have a percentage of viewers that have never visited before, and some of them will likely have almost no knowledge or only rudimentary knowledge of the given topic discussed. Let’s assume that only a very small percent of people, in this case 5 percent, don’t know anything about anime. For every 100 viewers, 5 of them are going to have no idea what you are talking about when you throw out terms like hikikomori, NEET, etc..
This unnecessary complication of the discussion will only add value to those “in-the-know” about whatever terms you use. Even then, these terms are often so ill-defined that they really only end up adding confusion or the need for additional clarification for the reader. For those 5 people who don’t know the terms? They probably clicked off your video, or your article and are likely never coming back. Why would they? If you didn’t know what I was talking about, would you want to spend your time trying to muddle through figuring it out?
No. You likely wouldn’t.
Let’s try a thought experiment. I’m huge into board games and know tons of terms for that hobby, just like we all know terms for the anime hobby. Well if I just started rambling about how the latest and greatest board game was an Amerithrash style game featuring drafting mechanics and timed worker placement mechanisms, how many of you in the anime community know what I’m talking about. Some, I’d imagine. However, to most people, what I just said means almost nothing.
Taking a minute here, if you are some brave soul who found your way here and don’t know much about this topic. Kudos. The whole point of this article is to express the need for anime discussion, or discussion for any hobby really, easy for people to understand. Especially for those who are just getting into the hobby or wanting to know more about it. Weird terms just alienate people.
Now, the other side of the coin is that these terms are fun and part of engrossing yourself in the anime community. I totally get it. In fact, I relish learning interesting terms and facts regarding my favorite hobbies. I spend literal hours consuming all kinds of content to expand my knowledge on these topics to the point that I could be considered an actual expert on anime, board games, and other topics.
This obviously feels great. There’s no point in denying the fact that this is fun for many people, myself included. However, things can be taken too far. In the case of terminology and hobby jargon, anime really has kind of gotten out of hand.
My thoughts are that these terms don’t need to just go away or never be used. Rather, instead, be mindful when discussing the hobby. Talking to your best friend who knows everything about anime? Cool, go all out. Use the terms! Just remember, when writing a blog or making a video, explain what you mean by a term, or just avoid it altogether. This provides a happy medium for all parties involved.
Naturally, some terms will die out and be replaced by new ones. That’s how language works, but there is no reason to abolish the technical side of jargon-based discussion in its entirety. So what are your thoughts on this topic? Too many terms? Not enough? Or maybe someplace in the middle like me? Let me know in the comments below.