100 Japanese Anime Vocabulary Words You Can (Or Can’t) Use

From the new season of Attack on Titan and Demon Slayer (Kimetsu no Yaiba) to classics like Sailor Moon and Pokemon, every fandom has its own insider Japanese anime vocabulary and phrases. Naruto’s catchphrase, だってばよ, for example. Recently, one that sticks with us most is Commander Erwin’s powerful, iconic line: “Shinzou o sasageyo (心臓を捧げよ)!” which means, “Dedicate your hearts.” 

But regardless of your favorite show, all fans have built enough common anime vocabulary to know them by heart. By all means, 100 isn’t enough to fully cover all Japanese words often used in manga and anime, but we’ll keep building this list. 

Don’t forget to read: 10 Easy Anime We Recommend for Beginners.

Learning Japanese with Anime

Let’s face it: Japanese is one of the hardest languages to learn. It has three different characters: hiragana, katakana and kanji. Your relationship and social status affect the way you speak. And there are, at minimum, 10 ways to say “I” in Japanese. Even students who’ve studied Japanese for years still like their skill is nowhere as good as a native. 

Before you throw your hands up in frustration trying to understand the difference between tadoushi and jidoushi, a less-painful, intensive way to learn Japanese is through immersion. 

That’s right: It is possible to learn Japanese with anime. When you watch anime, you’re automatically soaking in new grammar structures and new Japanese vocabulary — without overloading your brain (or frying some of your brain cells). Once you hear the same common anime words repeated multiple times, we like to say that your mind is ‘activating’ that vocabulary, putting it in your mental library for future use. 

Tips to Learn Japanese with Anime

1. Start easy with the genre of your anime

We’re not saying you shouldn’t catch up with the latest episode of your favorite anime, but if you decide to use anime as part of your learning method, ditch out outlandish themes like isekai, science fiction or over-the-top fantasy genre. How often will you use the word kyojin (巨人, meaning ‘titan’) in real life?

Instead, choose more generic anime themes, like slice-of-life, romance or comedy. They contain casual language, without Japanese words only found in niche tropes. Films like Haikyuu!, which is set in high school, strikes a good balance between easy Japanese dialogues and a fun plot. Anything from Ghibli Studio, like My Neighbor Totoro and Ponyo, is a great start too.  We also recommend picking animes aimed at children, since the Japanese are more simple and suitable for beginners. 

2. Work your way around Japanese-English subtitles

When you can read hiragana and katakana, and know at least a couple hundred kanji (around JLPT N3-level), try switching English subtitles with Japanese. It’s a great way to condition your listening comprehension skill. 

The trick is not to sink in every small detail. Chances are, you’ll encounter words, grammar or slang you’ve never heard before. As long as you get the general gist of the conversation, you’ll get accustomed to the Japanese language, as spoken by natives. Once you feel comfortable, that’s when you know you’re making progress. Before moving on to the next episode, make sure you learn all the important anime words and phrases there. 

3. Flashcards for Japanese vocabulary are your best friend

Remember the missing vocabulary you don’t know? It’s time to put the pieces back into the puzzle. As you watch, type (or write, if you’re old-fashioned) new words you come across. Put them in a spreadsheet or make it into a list, with all the meanings. 

After that, import them to flashcard apps like Anki. We memorize things faster when the word is put in full sentences, repeated and, well, useful. The spaced repetition Anki has allows you to test your knowledge. 

Check out: Chrome Extension For Making Flashcards For Netflix

100 Most Japanese Anime Vocabulary Words

We’ll arrange all the Japanese words alphabetically. If you’re just starting out, check out our blog post on the top 100 basic Japanese words.

Jump to:

learn japanese with anime word vocabulary

Japanese Anime Words: A – E

1. Aho (あほ or アホ): A phrase in the Kansai dialect of Japanese, meaning “idiot”. It is used to tease friends often but if you call someone バカ (baka) in Osaka, it’s considered offensive.

Warau na, aho.
Don’t laugh, stupid.

2. Aikawarazu (相変わらず): As usual, as ever, the same.

Kare wa aikawarazu daijoubu da.
He’s as strong as ever.

3. Aite (相手): Companion, partner. Most of the time, in anime, they’re used for opponents, like your enemy or sport rival.

Aite wa yonin da. Tataki no mesareruzo.
It’s four against you. You’ll be beaten up.

4. Ai (愛): Love. It’s more intimate than suki (好き) and daisuki (大好き), each meaning “like” and “really like”. It describes a “love” that’s very strong and can apply to both romantic and non-romantic love.

Kare no ai wa sameteitta.
His love grew cold.

5. Aitsu (あいつ): He, she, that guy. These words are very informal and can sound gruff or rude when used.

Aitsu wa ikka no tsura yogoshi.
He is the black sheep of the family.

6. Are (あれ): Technically means “that” when you refer to something that is far from both you and the listener. Alone, it can mean “Huh?”

7. Akirameru (あきらめる): Give up.

Akirameru na!
Don’t give up!

8. Ayamaru (誤る): To apologize

Watashi ga ayamaru riyuu wa nai.
I have no reason to apologize.

9. Ayashii (怪しい): Suspicious, dubious, shady. The Japanese word can also mean charming or bewitching.

Sono ayashii josei wa, majo to kangaerareta.
The strange-looking woman was thought to be a witch.

10. Akuma (悪魔): Demon or devil.

Akuma no hanashi o suru to akuma ga kitto arawareru.
Talk of the devil and he is sure to appear.

11. Baka (ばか or バカ): Idiot, moron, fool. Outside the Kansai region, バカ can sound lighthearted, while あほ will sound more insulting.

Baka umai!
(This is) ridiculously good!

12. Bakemono (化け物): Monster, goblin or ghost.

Ano hito wa bakemono no you na chikaramochi da.
That man is strong like a monster.

13. Betsu ni (別に): Commonly used in negative phrase in anime, which means “It doesn’t matter” or “Not particularly.”

Koshi wa itamu?
Does your back hurt?

Iya, betsu ni.
No, not really.

14. Bijin (美人): Beautiful woman.

Kare no nee-san wa sugoi bijin da!
His sister is a real beauty.

15. Bikkuri (びっくり): To be surprised, to be amazed

Hontou ni bikkuri shita yo!
I was really surprised!

16. Bishounen (美少年): A Japanese term meaning “beautiful boy.”

17. Chibi (チビ): A Japanese slang word to describe something or someone short.

Ano chibi-chan, urusai.
That shrimp is noisy.

18. Chotto (ちょっと): A little bit, slightly, just a minute or somewhat.

Chotto matte kudasai!
Please wait a moment!

19. Chigau (違う): To differ. It can also mean, “Wasn’t it?”

Ano utsushi ha genbon to chigau.
That copy differs from the original.

20. Daijoubu (大丈夫): Safe, secure. It can also mean “No, thanks,” or “I’m good.”

Daijoubu, jiki ni naremasu yo.
Don’t worry. You’ll get used to it soon.

21. Dame (ダメ): No good or hopeless. It can also indicate something that is not allowed.

Kyou, zangyou wa dame na no?
Can you work overtime today?

22. Dekkai (でっかい or でかい): Huge, big, gargantuan.

Aitsu dekai koto bakari itteiru.
He’s always talking like a big shot.

23. Doki doki (どきどき, also stylized as ドキドキ): An onomatopoeia to describe the thump-thump sound of the heart when you’re nervous (pitter-patter).

Kanojo ni au tabi ni mune ga doki doki suru.
My heart beats fast every time I see her.

24. Damaru (黙る): To be silent, so shut up.

Oi, damare!
Hey, shut up!

25. Damasu (騙す): To lie, to cheat or deceive.

Kanojo wa kare no egao ni kanzen ni damasareta.
She was completely taken in by his smile.

26. Dare (誰): A question word in Japanese, meaning “Who?”

Japanese Anime Words: F – J

27. Fuzakeru (ふざける): To joke, to jest, to make fun of. In anime or manga, you’ll hear, “ふざけん,” which is a very rude way of saying, “Don’t mess with me.”

28. Ganbaru (頑張る): To persevere, to persist or to refuse to budge.

Aserazuni ganbatte ne.
Stay calm, and do your best.

29. 走る: Run. A lot of adventure-themed anime will often use 逃げる (nigeru), which means run away.

Abunai kara hashiru na!
It’s dangerous, so don’t run!

30. Heiki (平気): Coolness, calmness, unconcerned. The word is usually used to describe feeling alright or fine.

Hito ga nani o iou to heiki da.
I don’t care what people say.

31. Hentai (変態): Although it’s known for being a genre of sexualized Japanese manga and anime, it’s also used to describe or label someone a “pervert”

32. Hen (変): Unusual, strange.

Hen na no.
That’s weird.

33. Hisashiburi (久しぶり): A common Japanese expression to start a conversation, especially with someone you haven’t seen in a long time. The phrase translates to “A long time (since last time)” but think of it as “I haven’t seen you in a long time!”

34. Hidoi (酷い): A Japanese adjective, meaning “cruel”.

Check out: 100 Most Common Adjectives You Need to Know

35. Hontou (本当): Truth, reality, properly. It’s also an expression on its own meaning “Really?”

Sono uwasa wa hontou daruo ka.
Can the rumor be true.

36. Hora (ほら): An interjection to express “Look!” or “Look out!”

Hora, hajimaru wa yo.
Look, it’s starting now.

37. Iku (いく). A Japanese verb, meaning “go”.

Gakkou ikouze!
Let’s go to school!

Coto recommends: 100 Japanese Verbs All Learners Should Know

38. Isekai (異世界): A Japanese genre of portal fantasy, where the main character is transported to an alternate universe. The word literally translates to “parallel universe”.

39. Ikemen (イケメン). Another Japanese slang to describe a good-looking guy. Unlike 美少年 (bishounen), which is more appropriate for someone younger, イケメン is more mature, fashionable and masculine.

40. Inochi (命): Fate, destiny or life.

Kare wa karoujite inochi o toritometa.
He narrowly escaped death.

41. Itai (痛い): Hurt, but can also mean embarrassing or cringy.

Hiyake shite itai yo.
My sunburn (really) hurts.

42. Jigoku (地獄): Hell

Jigoku o miru.
To live through hell (literal translation: to see hell).

43. Jibun de (自分で): By myself. Different verbs could follow this, which then becomes, “doing (something) by myself.”

Jibun de yarou ka.
Should I do it by myself?

44. Joudan (冗談): A joke

45. Jama (邪魔): Hindrance, obstacle or nuisance. It’s used to politely visit someone, like saying “I’m sorry for the intrusion.”

Ojama shimasu.
Pardon my intrusion.

Japanese Anime Words: K – O

46. Kachi (勝ち): Victory

47. Kami (神): God

48. Kareshi (彼氏): Boyfriend, but it is also a Japanese pronoun for “he/him”.

49. Kanojo (彼女): Girlfriend, but can also mean “she/her”. The plural pronoun for “she” in Japanese can also be kanojora (彼女ら・かのじょら)

50. Kakkoi (かっこい, also stylized with katakana カッコイ): Cool.

51. Kawaii (かわいい): Cute

52. Kimoi (キモい): A Japanese urban slang to describe the feeling of gross or disgusting. Particularly, it’s used to express the ick feeling you get from someone, like a creepy stranger. It’s an abbreviation for 気持ち悪い (kimochi warui), which is a more proper way of saying “bad feeling”.

Check out: 25 Japanese Slang to Learn

53. Kisama (貴様): Another Japanese pronoun meaning “you”. It used to be a term of respect, but it’s extremely rude today as the word carries a sense of contempt. You’ll only hear it in Japanese anime and manga, especially on shounen genre.

54. Kokoro (心): Heart.

55. Korosu (殺す): Kill.

56. Kowai (怖い): Scary.

57. Kuso (くそ): The word literally means “shit”, but Japanese people use as a cuss word.

Kuso, mata zangyou da!
Dammit, I’ve got to work overtime again!

58. Mahou (魔法): Magic

59. Maji (まじ): Seriously, straight. It’s can be used alone like hontou (本当・ほんとう) to express, “Seriously?”

60. Masaka (まさか): By no means, never, you don’t say. まさか is an interjection used to express disbelief when something you didn’t expect happen. In English, you can translate it as, “No way” or “Unbelievable”.

61. Meccha (めっちゃ): Has the same meaning as totemo (とても), which translates to “very”. It’s a slang, shortened from めっちゃくちゃ.

Meccha kawaii!
So cute!

62. Mendoukusai (面倒くさい): Has the same meaning as 面倒, but it’s a more informal way to say “a pain” or to describe something that’s bothersome.

63. Minna (みんな): Everyone.

64. Muri (無理): Impossible.

65. Nigeru (逃げる): Run away.

66. Ningen (人間): Human being.

67. Nani (何): Japanese question word for “What?”

68. Ohayou (おはよう): A common Japanese greeting for “good morning.”

Coto recommends: All 4 Basic Japanese Greetings

69. Omae (お前): An alternative Japanese pronoun that means “You”. It’s mostly used by Japanese men among their close friends, but it can still come across as disrespectful and aggressive.

70. Oni (鬼): Demon

Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi!
Demons out, fortunes in!

Japanese Anime Words: P – T

71. Sasuga (さすが): There’s no exact translation, but さすが has the closest meaning to “as expected.” The nuance depends on the context; you can use it to compliment or criticize something.

Sasuga ni oishii yo!
It’s delicious as expected!

72. Senpai (先輩): Someone who is older or more senior than you. In animes, you’ll see it used in high schools. Japanese people address someone as 先輩 in companies or organizations, too. Age doesn’t have to be the determinant. Someone who entered the workplace earlier than the others, for example, are considered senpai regardless of their age.

73. Oshare (おしゃれ): Stylish.

74. Ossan (おっさん): An informal and rude way of referring to a middle-aged man. It’s a shortened form of ojisan (おじさん).

75. Saikou (最高): The best.

76. Sugoi (すごい): Fantastic or incredible. It’s a word that’s typically used when you’re left awestruck out of excitement or feel overwhelmed.

Recommended: 20 ways to use すごい (Sugoi)

77. Suki (好き): Like. This can be used to express “like” in a more generic way, romantically or otherwise.

好きです。私と 付き合ってください。
Suki desu. Watashi to tsukiattekudasai.
I like you. Please go out with me.

79. Shinu (死ぬ): To die.

Kanojo no ryouri, saikou da!
My girlfriend’s cooking is the best!

78. Taihen (大変): Awfully.

80. Temee (手前, also written as てめ): It’s essentially a very rude way of saying “you.” It’s way ruder than saying omae. It’s used often in manga and anime, but avoid using this pronoun when speaking Japanese in real life.

Check out: 15 Ways to Say “You” in Japanese

81. Toiaezu (とりあえず): For now, or for the time being. It’s commonly used in a short-term context.

Japanese Anime Words: U – Z

82. Umai (うまい): Delicious. うまい draws more a casual nuance than oishii (おいしい).

83. Urayamashii (うらやましい): Jealous.

84. Urusai (うるさい): Noisy. You’ll head a lot of Japanese people say “uruse” instead of “urusai”, especially when they’re mad, which sounds more aggressive and rude.

85. Uso (噓): Lie.

Uso o iwanaide.
Please don’t tell lies.

86. Wakai (若い): Young

87. Wakaru (分かる): Understand

89. Yabai (やばい): Originally means “dangerous” or a bad situation. As a modern slang term, it takes on the meaning of amazing, cool, insane, crazy or extreme.

Yabai! Chikoku suru!
Damn! I’m going to be late!

90. Yahari (やはり): As expected. On spoken Japanese, people usually say, “やっぱり (yappari)”.

Boku wa yappari ano kyoku ga suki da.
As expected, I like that song!

91. Yakusoku (約束): Promise

Kanojo wa yakusoku o seijitsu ni mamotta.
She was faithful to her promise.

92. Yameru (やめる): Stop. Alone, it implores the recipient to stop whatever the listener is doing.

Yamete kudasai!
Please stop it.

93. Yanki (ヤンキー): Young punk. Technically, a group of people who refuse to conform to Japan’s strict societal norm.

94. Yare yare (やれやれ): An iconic phrase by Jotaru Kujo from JoJo’s Bizzarre Adventure. It means, “Well well”, “Good grief” and “Give me a break.”

95. Yatsu (やつ): An impolite way of saying “ that guy” in Japanese.

96. Yokatta (よかった): A past-tense form of 良い (yoi or ii), which means “okay”, “fine” or “alright”. Used alone, it becomes a phrase similar to “Thank goodness” or “That’s great!”

97. Yoshi (よし): This usually means good, but is often said as a stand-alone saying meaning “Good! Let’s do it!” For this, the “I” is silent.

98. Yowai (酷い): Weak.

Datte kimi wa yowai mo.
But you are weak! (Said by Gojo Satoru in Jujutsu Kaisen).

99. Yurusu (許す): Forgive

Kunrenchuu ni inemuri suru koto wa yurushimasen.
I do not tolerate sleeping during the drill.

100. Zannen (残念): Disappointing, regrettable.

Kare ga korarenai no wa zannen da.
It’s a pity that he can’t come.

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