Moe 101

This site is primarily geared towards those who already have an interest in or love for Japanese entertainment. But I know that if you’re a new fan, it can be a daunting prospect to pick up some of the lingo. Thus, I present to you a handy cheat sheet of terminology you might come across on these pages. (Don’t worry; I won’t tell anyone you were looking stuff up.)

  • Anime (ah-nee-may) — Blanket term for Japanese animation.
  • Ahegao (ah-heh-ga-oh) — A face made by someone in the throes of brain-melting orgasmic ecstasy, easily recognised by the lolling tongue and dribbling. Heart-shaped pupils optional. Not to be confused with ahoge.
  • Ahoge (ah-hoe-gay) — A rogue lock of hair sticking up out of the head, often used to denote characters who are foolish or carefree. Do not confuse with ahegao.
  • Bishoujo (bih-sho-jo) — “Pretty girl”. Usually used when describing games in which the main characters are, unsurprisingly, attractive girls.
  • Danmaku (dan-mah-koo) — “Bullet curtain”, also known as “bullet hell”. Subset of the shmup genre of video games in which the emphasis is less on the shooting and more on the dodging of intricately designed bullet patterns.
  • Dating sim — A video game based around relationship mechanics. Most accurately used to refer to games where the mechanics depict the growth of a relationship, but is often also applied to relationship-centric visual novels.
  • Doujin (doe-jin) — Term typically used to describe the Japanese equivalent of the indie game development scene.
  • Doujinshi (doe-jin-shee) — Independently created Japanese comics, often based on existing material, whether or not the creators have permission to create derivative works.
  • Ecchi (etch-ee) — Slang term for lewd conduct. Usually used to describe suggestive content in Japanese media that doesn’t quite cross the line into explicit material. Contrast with hentai.
  • Eroge (eh-roe-gay) — Abbreviation for “erotic game”, a term usually used to refer to dating sims or romance-themed visual novels featuring explicit, erotic content, though this is not the focus of the experience. Contrast with galge and nukige.
  • Fanservice — Two definitions: 1) Used to describe fan-baiting ecchi (or sometimes even hentai) content in anime, manga or video games, the theory being that if there’s the prospect of seeing a favourite character’s pantsu they’ll keep watching/reading/playing. 2) Content included in a creative work — usually as part of a series — to make fans of said series happy. Final Fantasy XIV is full of references to previous Final Fantasy games; this is fanservice by the second definition.
  • Futanari (foo-ta-nah-ri) — Sometimes shortened to just “futa”. A pretty lady with a willy. Being a dude who is into this does not make you gay. Not to be confused with the word for “two people”, which is futari, just to put you on edge during Japanese classes.
  • Galge (gal-gay) — Abbreviation for “gal game”, a term usually used to refer to dating sims or romance-themed visual novels with no explicit, erotic content. Contrast with eroge.
  • Gap moe (gap mo-eh) — A character whose appeal comes from the “gap” between the front they put up to the world and the person they really are. Yumiko from Grisaia.
  • Hentai (hen-tye) — Literally, “perversion”. Usually used to describe Japanese anime, manga or video games with explicit content. Often abbreviated as “H” which, confusingly, is pronounced “etchi”.
  • HNNNNG (hnnnng) — Exclamation used to express pleasure — not necessarily sexual — at the cuteness of something. Can be optionally exchanged with Uguuuu~.
  • JRPG (jay-arr-pee-jee) — Short for “Japanese role-playing game”. Refers to video games, often (though not exclusively) on console platforms, of Eastern origin or developed in a style evocative of Eastern developers. Tend to be more story-centric, less customisable and more linear than their Western counterparts.
  • Kawaii (kah-wye-ee) — Japanese for “cute”.
  • Kinetic novel — A visual novel in which there is no player agency or interactivity at all; it’s simply a linear story to enjoy. See: Nekopara, Ne no Kami.
  • Kuudere (coo-der-eh) — A popular character trope, traditionally though not exclusively exhibited by female characters and particularly by “class president” types, in which a romantic, loving aspect of their personality is hidden beneath a cool, calm and sometimes seemingly emotionless exterior.
  • Light novel — Popular literature; a Japanese evolution of pulp media, usually aimed at young adults. Typically no more than 40-50,000 words in length, illustrated and published rapidly. Many popular anime series are based on light novels.
  • Loli (loh-lee) — Short for “Lolita”. Slang for a young-looking (though not necessarily underage) female character. One of the most frequent sources of misunderstandings between otaku and non-otaku, for reasons that are probably obvious.
  • Manga (man-gah) — Japanese comics. Read from right to left rather than left to right.
  • MMORPG (em-em-owe-arr-pee-jee) — Short for “massively multiplayer online role-playing game”, a variant of the role-playing game genre in which many players all inhabit the same virtual world online. See: Final Fantasy XIV.
  • Mobage (moe-bedge) — Generic term for free-to-play MMORPGs on iOS and Android devices, named after the most popular publisher of them. See: Granblue Fantasy, Fate/Grand Order.
  • Moe (mo-eh) — An aesthetic, primarily for character design, intended to provoke feelings of intense affection or even love in the audience. Typified by (though not exclusive to) large-eyed, attractive female characters.
  • Nukige (noo-ki-gay) — A game or visual novel in which the sexual content is the main appeal element. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a total absence of story, but what story a nukige does contain is usually more a means of getting from one sex scene to another than anything else. Contrast with eroge and galge.
  • Oppai (oh-pye) — Large breasts.
  • Oppai loli (oh-pye loh-lee) — A loli with big tits, obviously.
  • Otaku (oh-tah-koo) — Someone who is very interested in and passionate about something. In the West, it is usually interpreted as a fan of Japanese popular media, but in Japan you can be an otaku of anything. Carries pejorative connotations in Japan, but has a more neutral meaning in the West. Closest British equivalent is probably “anorak”.
  • Otome (oh-toh-meh) — literally, “girl” or “maiden”. Usually used to describe video games, often dating sims or visual novels, written with a female audience in mind.
  • Pantsu (pant-soo) — Underpants. (You could have probably worked that one out.) Can be used to refer to either male or female undergarments.
  • Pettanko (peh-tan-ko) — A flat-chested woman. Sometimes a character who is really insecure about this fact, though not always. Often used to distinguish between older girls and women with flat chests who are not lolis.
  • Shimapan (shih-mah-pan) — Striped panties, usually with white and mint-green stripes. It is a bit of a visual meme in a lot of anime and video games that feature fanservice to have at least one female character wearing these and flashing them occasionally.
  • Shmup (sh-muhp) — Contraction of shoot ’em upa genre of video games in which the main focus or mechanic involves shooting things. Usually used to describe such examples of these games that play or are presented in two dimensions; first-person shooters like Call of Duty are not shmups, for example.
  • Shoujo (sho-jo) — Japanese for “little girl”. Sometimes used with manga to describe works aimed at a stereotypically young, female audience. Often relationship-centric. Mahou shoujo, conversely, means “magical girl” and is used to describe a specific genre of anime and manga typified by shows such as Sailor Moon.
  • Shounen (sho-nen) — Like shoujo, sometimes used with manga to describe works aimed at a young, male audience. Often action-centric.
  • Trap — A feminine-looking boy dressed up as a girl in such a manner for them to be indistinguishable from a “real” girl. Like futanari, totally not gay. This word upsets people sometimes. Only use it among people who are thoroughly familiar with this definition!
  • Tsundere (tsun-der-eh) — A popular character trope, usually exhibited by female characters, where they tend to appear abrasive and rather defensive (tsuntsun) in an attempt to hide a distinctly lovey-dovey nature that they’re often a bit embarrassed about (deredere).
  • Visual novel/VN — Computer game, usually for PC, in which the primary activity the “player” engages in is reading, though they are sometimes given choices to make that determine the ending. (A visual novel without choices is sometimes called a kinetic novel.) The text they are reading consists of narration and dialogue, and is supported by images, music, sound, voice acting and sometimes animation.
  • Yandere (yan-der-eh) — A character trope, usually exhibited by female characters, in which the person in question is obsessed with the object of their affections to such a degree that they are willing to hurt people — including themselves and the one they love — in an attempt to express their feelings, or to overcome irrational jealousy.
  • Yaoi (yah-oh-ee) — Sometimes also referred to as “Boys’ Love” or just “BL”. Containing homoerotic male relationships. Usually used today to describe material written for a female audience but depicting homosexual male romances. Being a dude who is into this might mean you are a bit gay.
  • Yuri (you-ree) — Containing lesbian themes. In Japan, it is used more broadly to describe any content with lesbian themes; in the West, it is most commonly applied to ecchi or hentai content.
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