A small few notes on Pronunciation
for those unfamiliar : When you see the "ou" it simply means a long "o."
A double-e is just a lengthened "e” and same for double-a and so on…
I know that Romanji dictates a lengthened "o" as either "ou"
or "o" with a line above it. Do not be thrown off by the fact that,
in a lot of DBZ fansubs, you see "Goku" spelled "Gokou," which we all know
is not pronounced with a long "o."
Always read it at face value using Japanese pronunciation rules; do not try to anglicanize the pronunciation, and you should be okay. We also can’t forget the interchangeability of ‘r’ and ‘l’... That’s a side-effect of regional dialects and accents. Just assume that the r’s roll. However, I do try to present things in a basis of Kanto dialect... I’d rather not try to educate people about Kansai dialect – especially not when I know so little about it myself ^_^ ... ”monyanachiha” is an example of something I don’t want to get into. You'll probably recognize a lot of these words as you go through them, and that sort of recognition is how I learned the initial bulk of my knowledge on Japanese.
Also if you see a vowel followed by a series of “~”, it basically means a lengthened vowel sound, but not really a property of the word. The vowel sound is lengthened as a sort of mood/tonal inflection... Much in the same way we might scream “AAAAAAH”, but I would simply write “A~~~~~H!”
Abunai - Dangerous. Also used in exclamations to mean "Look out!" or "Duck!" Can also be used as a euphemism for just plain bad situations.
Ai - Love. More representative of familial or husband/wife love. Might occasionally be used in the case of platonic love, as well.
Aite - Companion/Opponent. Most common usage -- "Omae no aite wa kono ore da!", which colloquially translates to "Your opponent is me and me alone!" As for the "companion" thing, well, that's just another meaning, which can be extrapolated a bit. And really, "opponent" comes from the idea that the "other guy" in a fight (i.e., the person you're with) will be your opponent
Akkuman/Akuma - Satan, A Devil. The Kanji "aku" is evil, and "ma" is one of several kanji for demon.
Arigatou - Thank you. Shortened form of arigatou gozaimasu. Shows up commonly anyway, so why not in Anime?
Baka - Idiot, Stupid, Moron, etc. Anything implying lower intelligence. Depending on context and tone of voice, it can be as mild as "silly." In more severe tones, I've seen fansubs which translate bakatare as "fuckingstupidpigmothersuckwad."
Bakemono - Literally "strange creature." Generally means "monster." Commonly, anyone that a character is genuinely terrified of or any unstoppable villain is called a monster.
Be-da! - contemptful gesture done by sticking out your tongue and stretching down one lower eyelid. Often shortened to just be~~~~. Western equivalent is "nyah nyah."
Chichi - Father/Breasts. Ummm... no I'm not kidding. In one kanji form, it means father. "Chichi-ue" is an old-fashioned, proper and polite way of addressing one's father. In another form, however, it does mean breasts. Other usable words for breasts include "oppai" and "mune" (mune literally meaning "chest").
Chigau - Wrong. At least, that's the common meaning. Literally means deviate or be different. Also in exclamation can mean "No way!" or "You're way off!" Another common form is "chigauka?" which is more or less mild ... e.g added to the end of a sentence, it can be something like "yada yada yada, didn't you?" or "yada, yada, yada, isn't it?"
Chikara - Strength or level of a particular power.
Chikusho - literally means "beast" but is used as "damn." Similar exclamations exist like kuso and shimatta. Often, chikusho is subtitled as "shit" because it is generally a stronger term than say, kuso (which literally means shit).
Chotto - "a little" Adjective counterpart is 'chiisai.' In imperative usage, it can also mean "wait," much in the same way the English word 'soft' was used in Shakespearean times. Often exclaimed too late in the slapstick comedy scenes.
Daijobu - O.K., all right.
Damaru - "Shut up." Exclamation of damaru. Damare is the exclamation and is also a shortened form of damarenasai. Other command forms include damattero.
Damasu - To trick. There's always tricks and deception in Anime, so it's gotta be there. Common form is in past tense : damasareru "to be tricked."
Dame - Bad, unacceptable, etc. Common usage is 'dame desu' or 'dame da' meaning "It's no good" or "It can't be done." Also by itself can form just plain "No" as in "Don't do that."
Fuzakeru - Fool around, play games. Usually, in anime, it is used harshly in the exclamation 'fuzakeruna!' which can either mean "Don't be stupid!" or "Don't fuck with me!"
Gaki - young and immature. Used in a derogatory way as in "brat" or "punk."
Ganbaru - Keep trying / do your best. Heard all the time -- common colloquial translations include "Hang in there," "Give it your all," "Go get 'em," etc. Other forms of the word include 'ganbatte' and 'ganbare.'
Hayai - Fast, quick. There's always a guy out there with remarkable speed. Also has a variant 'hayaku' which means "hurry."
Henshin - Physical Transformation. There's always Saiyans going Super Saiyan. There's always teenage girls becoming Sailor Senshi. There's always monsters that become bigger monsters. So this word will always be there.
Hentai - Abnormal or perverted. With the commonness of lechers in anime and people humorously being mistaken for perverts, this word deserves to stick out. Regardless, it is also derived from the same root as 'henshin.'
Hidoi - Severe or harsh. Also in existence are spoken variations like hidee. It also varies in meaning with tone of voice. Can go from "That's terrible!" to something like "No fair."
Itadakimasu - No English equivalent exists... It is the general ettiquette to say this before eating. It's a common thing in Anime for characters to eat an absurdly huge amount of food, and so you often hear this uttered with immense enthusiasm. Most fansubbers don't put subtitles when someone says this. Either that, or it will be subtitled as "Itadakimasu." Professional subtitling studios generally try to find something appropriate for the scene, but you won't actually see a translation. Literally, it’s something along the lines of “ready to receive,” and so it’s appropriate in a few other situations than just eating.
Itai - Hurt, pain. Usually used as "ouch." Among the spoken variants are itee. Often the word itself is seen floating around the huge swollen bump on someone's head.
Jigoku - Hell. Where just about every character in Anime is told to go sooner or later.
Kami – God. Lots of
people trying to reach god-like levels of something...
Also the phrase “kamikaze” which we all know about basically
means “divine wind” (kaze =
This is also a good example to bring up about interchangeable
characters. Those of you who
know about Japanese characters know things like the fact that “ka” is the
same as “ga” only w/o a little mark by it.
How that relates is that you might see words like “kami” used
as a suffix, only the suffix will be “gami.”
Just note that it is the same word.
So “shinigami” does mean “god of death,” and not “paper of
While I'm on the subject, I might as well mention the "kami vs. gami" thing. The change of ka or ga in suffix form is pretty normal, and almost any word is subject to this, and it's not exclusive to suffix or prefix form. Sometimes, they can change form just for arbitrary reasons in a name. Example being in Rurouni Kenshin -- the name "Juppon Gatana", basically "The Ten Swords." "Gatana" is derived from "Katana", but the nature of a "g" sound in Japanese includes that it can sound like "ng", due to the simplification of derived words from Chinese and Sanskrit. Hence, it was preferable to have a "ga" sound follow a word ending in "n". Similarly, "ta" will often become "da", "shi" will often become "ji", "ha" will become "ba" or "pa.", and so on.
Kanarazu - inevitable, definitely. There's so much definitiveness in Anime, that this is often exclaimed, often coming out "I swear!" or "No matter what!" A similar phrase is made using "zettai ni", which is actually used more like the word 'definitely' is used in English.
Kawaii - CUTE, CUTE, CUTE, CUTE. This is an obsession in Japan. This one sticks out more than anything in Japanese culture. It is often confused with 'Kawai' which is really not semantically related to 'Kawaii.' 'Kawaii' is cute, but can also mean 'beloved' even though more often than not, it means cute. 'Kawai' means sad or pitiful.
Ki - Life/Spirit essence or energy. Literally, it means 'air', but it's almost never used that way. Most westerners are familiar with the Chinese word, 'chi'. Ki is simply the Japanese translation.
Kokoro - Heart or Mind. Note also that every ancient culture (Japan included) believed that the seat of thought and intellect was the heart. It is reflected in the modern language by the word 'kokoro' which can be used to mean either heart or mind. Other variant meanings include "pride" or "willpower."
Korosu - Kill. When haven't you heard this? You might hear the past tense 'korosareta', future tense 'korosareru,' or possibly the verb form 'korose.'
Kowai - Afraid. Also related to the exclamatory Kowaii. Can be anything from "scary thought" to "I'm utterly petrified!"
Koi - Come. An imperative form of kuru, but you'd usually hear "koi!" in Anime. The most common occurrence comes when one character is being smug and saying something like "Saa, kakatte koi!" or "Well, come and get me!"
Mahou - Magic or Spell.
Makeru - to lose. How many times have you heard "Makeru mon ka!" or "Makerarenai!"? Both translating to something along the lines of "I can't lose!" or "I won't lose!"
Masaka - "It can't be." No matter how many times someone displays their powers, someone is there who is shocked by it. Similarly, you'll also frequently hear the phrase "Shinjirarenai" which means "I can't believe it." Sometimes you might hear the shortened form "Shinjiraren."
Matte - Wait. The imperative form of matsu. Matte and its abbreviated mate both come out relatively mild... Just plain "Wait" or "Wait up!" Full form is "mattekudasai." It exists in harsher forms like "machinasai" or "machierare" which both come out more like "Get back here, you!"
Mou - Already. Used almost exactly like the English "already." The most common line is probably "Mou, owari ka?" or "Are you done already?" It can also be used like the slang "already" much in the same way Americans say "ALL RIGHT, already!" In frustration, it can be said by itself coming out something like "Geez!"
Musume - Young woman. Literally, it means "daughter" but it usually only means that when speaking through some other subject, i.e. saying "Aitsu no musume" which translates to "His/her daughter" or something like that. Without that, it is usually somewhat more disrespectful than just "young woman." It comes out more like "chick" or "babe."
Nani - What. Someone just has to say "nani?!???" when he's shocked by something. The kanji for "nani" is used in many ways, as well Nanda (again, "what," but refers to something in particular), nanika/nanka("something") nande ("why").
Naruhodo - "I see."
Nigeru - "Flee!"; "Run!"; or "Get out of here!" Also found in the forms, "nigero" and "nigete!"
Okoru - To get angry. There's always a fiery hothead somewhere in anime... there's also the seemingly quiet people who get ticked off over something in particular. Command form (often heard from Son Goku :) is 'okore.'
Oni - Ogre. The story of Shuten Doji, the king of the Oni Race, is definitely deeply rooted in Japanese culture. Shuten Doji himself appears in several Anime like Ronin Warriors/Samurai Troopers (called Anubis in the dub). Oni are typically pictured in a Tiger-skin outfit. Lum (Urusei Yatsura) for instance, is from a planet called Oni-boshi, and is actually called an Oni -- We see her almost always wearing that tiger-skin bikini.
Sasuga - Incredible. Literally, it means that someone lives up to expectations, but it is usually assumed that those expectations are high ones. Yahari or yappari are the more generalized equivalents. Other possible translations include "typical" or "only *such & such*"
Senpai - Senior. Applies to any hierarchy; Anyone who holds relative seniority is referred to as senpai. Famous examples include Tamiya-senpai (Oh, My Goddess) and Kuno-senpai (Ranma 1/2).
Shinu - To die. There's death everywhere in anime. More common usages include shinda (Dead), shinanaide/shinuna (Don't die!), or shi'ne (Die!).
Sugoi - General superlative of admiration. The other really common one is subarashii. Subarashii is generally neutral and can mean that you still admire something whether you happen to like it or not. Semantically related, although it doesn't appear so is "kakkoi", which more or less means "Cool!" In spoken Japanese, sugoi will often be abbreviated "sugee."
Taihen - Terrible. There's always something bad happening. It's used to signify that a situation is really bad. It can also be used as an adverb thereby meaning "very" or "extremely." Usually, though, the adverb 'totemo' will be used for that purpose.
Tameshi - Test. People always want to try something out or "test their abilities."
Tasukete - "Help me." Shortened form of 'tasukete kure.' In anime, it's generally less often used by a damsel in distress and more often used by a cowardly fighter who has faced defeat. Root word is "tasukeru."
Tatakae - A fight or battle. Fighting, fighting, fighting. What else is there? Just kidding. Also used is the verb 'tatakau.'
Tensai - Genius. Many anime characters have a strange gauge of genius. You usually won't hear this in any form other than to say someone is a genius in some particular area -- Vegeta and Goku refer to each other as fighting geniuses. Washu-chan proclaims herself the greatest of all scientific geniuses, and so on...
Tomodachi, Teki, and Uragiri - Respectively, they mean "friend", "foe", and "traitor." If there's fighting, at least 2 of these 3 must also exist. Uragiri is actually the shortened form of uragirimono.
Unmei - Destiny/Fate. Derived from "un" meaning chance/luck/fate. Another suitable word for destiny is "sadame."
Uso - A lie. Most common in an exclamatory form. This also belongs with 'masaka' and 'shinjirarenai.' Exclaimed, it comes out something like "You've gotta be kidding!" or "No way!" Also spoken like usso or ussou. In conversation, though, it always refers to lies.
Yaru - To do something... unlike "suru" or "shite," it is not fundamentally a suffix. It can be used that way, but it’s somewhat rare by comparison. Shite and suru can both be used as words, but they are not derived that way. Yaru is... A common form is the imperative "yare." And also found are negatives as exampled by "Boku ga yaranakya..." meaning "If I can't do it, ..."
Yatta - "Hooray!!." This one is probably derived from the past tense of yaru... is often subtitled as "I/We DID IT!!" And can be used as such -- e.g. : "Yattanda?" or "Did we do it?" More often than not, though, it's uttered in celebration.
Yurusu - Forgive. Often used are the opposites yurusanai/yurusenai/yurusane/yurushimasen -- All meaning "I won't forgive you!" or more or less severe forms of that phrase. You'll also hear yurushite kure or yurushite kudasai which comes out "Please forgive me." The latter often comes from husbands who are deathly terrified of their wives.
These don't really stick out like the other aforementioned words, but they're common everyday words -- so in that sense, they are must-have words. I know that a great many such words have some arguable aspects to them, so I won't really get into that part of it too much. And obviously, you also shouldn't expect absolute completeness. I guess that makes this page a bit more like a Japanese lesson, but oh well...
Numbers - ichi(1), ni(2), san(3), yon/shi(4), go(5), roku(6), nana(7),
hachi(8), kyu/ku(9), juu(10). hyaku(100), sen(1000), man(10,000)...
afterwards, it goes in steps of 10,000 -- e.g. oku(100,000,000)
chou (1,000,000,000,000). Conjunctions can form all other
numbers -- e.g. 773 - nana-hyaku-nana-juu-san. 40,000,000 - yon-sen-man.
There are the kun forms of the same numbers like so – hitotsu (1), futatsu (2), mitsu (3), yotsu (4), itsutsu (5), mutsu (6), nanatsu (7), yatsu (8), kokonotsu (9).
Also to be made note of are some variations... For instance in referring to the size of a group -- it goes hitori, futari, sanni, yonni, itsuni, rokuni, etc... The change exists in hitori and futari and group numberings can be taken in other ways. Hitori can also mean "alone." Futari can be used to be "both" just as something like "yonni" can be used as "the four of you..."
Some conjunctions of numbers make new sounds primarily because it would hard to pronounce otherwise... 600 – roku hyaku would pose a problem, so it’s shortened to roppyaku. Likewise, 8000 = hassen as opposed to hachi sen. 300 – sanbyaku. 3000 – sanzen (to avoid the alliteration). 1000 – issen.
Also remember that in Japanese, we read 4 digits at a time, not 3... So something like 10,240,000 is sen ni juu yon oku. 10,240,015 is sen ni juu yon oku juu go.
Me - watakushi, watashi, washi, atakushi, atashi, boku, ore, ora, sessha. One of the problems with subtitling/dubbing is that it generally doesn't cover the deferences of pronouns. Watakushi is gender-independent and is more or less formal in modern times. Watashi is the less formal form. Washi is just a more casual variant on watashi. Atakushi and atashi are pretty much the same, except they are not gender-independent. They're both exclusively feminine terms. Boku is a masculine term, but is typically used by younger men – not very overtly masculine, and there’s no major impoliteness to it. Ore is actually more overtly masculine and would be considered disrespectful in the company of non-familiars, or at least in the company of women. In anime, though, there are quite a few characters whose personalities are overtly masculine, so they would generally use such terms. There are of course, allowances that can be made. Take for instance Ranma in Ranma 1/2 -- when he changes genders, you don't really hear his dialogue change -- except, of course, when he's pretending to be Ranko-chan in front of his mother ^_^. Ora is a fairly casual thought-to-be unisex term that is more often used by males than anyone else (Japanese men are lazy talkers). Sessha is rather on the opposite extreme from “ore.” It’s overtly polite and humble... More along the lines of saying “this lowly one” rather than just “me.”
You - omae, omee, kisama, kimi, anata, anta, onore, temee. Omae is used rather generally in Anime, and supposedly is starting to be used similarly among Japanese teenagers. It originally had a romantic connotation (boyfriend-girlfriend) to it, and purists still construe it that way. Outside of that, it is also used only among familiars -- the use of omae in unfamiliar company is considered rude -- I would refrain from it entirely. Purists do still dominate the Japanese population... Omee apparently exhibits no deference, but at least suggests that you don't dislike the person you're speaking to. I'm not too sure about that, though, so don't take it to wit. Kimi is probably the best example of a term that suggests no deference whatsoever. It might be considered a mildly masculine term, but not too much. Anata can also be considered as a term with no deference, but it has other meanings besides just "you." It can also be used as a term of endearment from wife->husband... But such cases are obvious. Anta is a mildly feminine term that probably just came about as an informal form of anata. It has, though, been used by men quite frequently -- mostly to be polite. Onore and Kisama are both far from polite. They are both considered extremely rude. In Anime, you'll often find people use onore and kisama to indicate their disdain for the other character. There also exist cases like Vegeta (DBZ) who were originally villains and will use 'kisama' by force of habit. Temee ranks among Kisama and Onore. Note that they are often used by themselves to indicate disdain purely -- like "Damn you." or "Why, you..." -- more common for "damn you" would be "Kono yaro~~!!!"
He/Him/She/Her/Them/They - Aitsu, Yatsu, Koitsu, Anohito, Anoyaro. There's no deference in Aitsu or Yatsu, but is considered casual -- use with caution. Another form of yatsu is anna-yatsu -- "that person." Koitsu does exhibit some negative deference, but nothing major -- I've sometimes heard it being used as "it" -- I don't know if I just misheard soitsu or what... Anohito is the truly polite form because it is unquestionably neutral. Notably derived from the same root as hitori. Ano is along the lines of "that." Literally it would probably come out more like "that particular person." This also means anohito cannot be used as "them" the way, say, koitsu can. Anoyaro is similar in meaning to anohito, but definitely has a strong sign of disliking. Yaro also shows up in a million different ways -- bakayaro ("stupid person", but far more severe, usually), kusoyaro ("you little shit"), etc.