Friday, April 29, 2011

Convention Survival Guide - Lexicon of Convention Vernacular

Vernacular is defined as the language or vocabulary peculiar to a particular class or profession. In the Anime and Manga industry, there is a rich vocabulary that is used over the course of a convention that can be quite esoteric to people who are unfamiliar with its terminology. Even to people who are used to the hobby or anime or manga, there is a vernacular that is used only during an anime convention. I will explore the second part of my convention survival guide to discuss convention vernacular. It will be separated in a couple of different classes: industry terminology, fan terminology, and convention terminology. I hope that you can look through this and learn a thing or two from the second part of my survival guide.

Industry Terminology

Anime: Anime is defined as animation coming from Japan. In many western countries, Anime is the short version of "Japanese Animation." The characteristic style that most people consider the "anime style" was developed by Osamu Tezuka in the 1960's. Most fans of Anime will tell you that there is no consistent style of anime, but that a studio or an individual artist may have a consistent style.

Manga: Manga are japanese comics, most of them printed in black and white. In Japan it has an almost universal appeal that breaks socioeconomic classes. They are published in single chapters in an anthology released over a period of time. Eventually they compile the single chapters into a compilation that is released over a regular period.

Manga-ka: Manga-ka are the artists behind the Manga. They normally have a team of assistants who draw backgrounds, use screentones, and assist in coloring. These manga artists have strict deadlines, so it is all too often that they burn out from working too hard. They get paid per page of manga they draw and they normally sign contracts where they own the rights to the characters they draw. Many manga artists have one huge hit and can never replicate that success again, there are very few who can make hit after hit.

Doujinshi is much more popular in Japan
Doujinshi: They are self published works that may or may not use characters from familiar anime/manga. It is doujinshi because there is no editor to give then feedback and there is no formal corporation who is printing and publishing the work. Doujinshi is not strictly manga, it can be pretty much anything under the sun. A group of doujinshi artists who publish similar themes are known as a Doujinshi Circle. In Japan Doujinshi is frowned upon by publishers because it violates copyright laws, but they accept it since it energizes the Japanese market.

Licenses: Many of the Anime and Manga published in the United States and Europe are licensed from a Japanese Company. The cost of license depends on the success of the franchise in Japan, how many copies they expect to sell in the USA, and a variety of other factors. A western company licenses a property depending on the contract, which likely has time limits (for example: X company can hold the license for Z anime for 4 years), a base costs and other various stipulations. Let's say that I am a license holder for Magical Girl Awesome 2, my base cost of the license is $24,000, I can release the property for 5 years, and I have to give the Japanese company a 5% cut of sales. I need to sell 10,000 units for my license to be profitable. If the market is smaller than 10,000 units sold, then odds are that Magical Girl Awesome 2 will never see the light of day in the USA or Europe unless I can renegotiate a contract or expand sales beyond the traditional market.

Anime and Manga Genres: Genres in Japan and the USA are separated by two things, the age market and the content of material. There are 4 common age separations in the Anime and Manga market:
  • Shojo - Prepubescent girls to younger teenage girls
  • Shonen - Prepubescent boys to younger teenage boys
  • Seinen - Older teenage boys to adult men
  • Josei - Older teenage girls to adult women
There are plenty of genres separated by the content of the material, here is a small snapshot of them:
  • Action - Lots of fighting
  • Romance - Falling in love
  • Yuri - 2 girls falling in love with each other. They normally have a younger girl who looks up to an older sister (called Onee-sama) character. Yuri can be explicit, but there are many which are purely romantic.
  • Yaoi - 2 guys falling in love with each other. They normally have a guy who is the Uke (bottom) and the Seme (top). Yaoi pairings are normally denoted as (person 1) x (person 2). Person 1 is the top and Person 2 is the bottom. If you have been an anime fan as long as I have, you will eventually become friends with Yaoi fans, that is why I know this stuff.
  • Gender Bending - A genre that challenges traditional notions of gender. They normally have characters who cross dress, switch bodies with a different gender, or transform into another gender. I did a huge write up on it if you want to learn more.
Fan Terminology

Pedobear - A character based off of "Kuma" from 2 channel, Pedobear is short for "Pedophile Bear." Pedobear became popular in 4chan and is posted whenever someone posts images of children or anime characters that look like children in a sexually suggestive manner.

4chan - A popular image board where people post pictures anonymously. After some time the discussions would disappear if inactive. It is very addicting and can consume lots of time.

Lolicon - Short for "lolita complex." In anime fandom it is assigned to someone who is interested in seeing prepubescent female anime or manga characters in suggestive situations or to someone who likes anime of manga on that subject.

Shotacon - Short for "shouta complex." It is the male equivalent to Lolicon.

H - This is pronounced "Ecchi." Short for Hentai, which means pervert. A person who is ecchi is open about their sexual deviancy or are placed in situations that make them look perverted. I know some people who would fit this definition quite well. As pointed out by my friend Sam, there is a difference between Ecchi and Hentai. There is a line of demarcation between the two of them when used as a genre, but when used in conversational or idiomatic way, there is no difference between the two.

Fangirl/Fanboy - This term is assigned to someone who loves something so much that they are practically obsessed with it. If you challenge their obsession they will bite back hard. Don't be afraid to hit them when they do.

Blond Hair, you must be from America!
Weeaboo - A person who is obsessed with everything Japanese and thinks that anything from Japan is the greatest thing ever. They would inject random Japanese words into English like "that ringtone is so kawaii." There is a difference between a weeaboo and a Japanophile, a Japanophile is not always a weeaboo, but a weeaboo is always a Japanophile. Please do not say this, because it can be quite offensive.

Japanophile - A person who has a love of Japan and all things Japanese.

Otaku - In Japan it is someone who is completely obsessed with their interests. You can be a train otaku, an anime otaku, cosplay otaku, car otaku, etc. It is seen as derogatory on many levels and you don't want to be labeled as an otaku if you are from Japan. In the USA, many anime fans have taken it as their own and have used it to describe someone who is strongly into anime, manga, and/or Japanese video games. Even within the anime community there is a lot of disagreement with the usage of the word "otaku," use it at your own peril.

Tsundere - A combinations of "Tsun Tsun" (irritable) and "Dere Dere" (lovestruck). I wrote a huge article about it if you want to know more.

Creeper - A term used for someone who creeps other people out. In general people in Anime Conventions are really nice, but every once in a while you meet someone whose body movements and voice tones creep you out. Thus they get the word creeper assigned to them. Please don't be a creeper.

Cosplay - Short for "costume play." When someone wears an outfit and acts like a character from an anime, videogame, manga, etc. In Japan a majority of cosplay is bought, and the cosplay culture is very different than America and Europe. In the West, a huge majority of cosplay is done by the person who is wearing the outfit.

Convention Terminology

Guest of Honor - This is a word given to a guest who comes to an anime convention that will get a lot of focus. They will normally have a panel and autograph signing over the course of the convention. In the past, Guests of Honor in an anime convention would be a Japanese guest. It is getting more and more popular to give the title to American guests who work in the Anime and Manga Industry. It is not a bad thing since they are hard working and many of them have done great work in the field of Anime and Manga.

Industry Guest - If you see a person with this on their badge, they work for the Anime and Manga industry on some level, whether it is press, marketing, distribution, or even video games influenced by anime and manga art style. When you see them, give them a hug since they make it possible for you to enjoy your hobby.

Convention Staff - Convention Staff are people who make your convention experience exist in the first place. A large chunk of them are volunteers who dedicate time to make the convention experience better because they love the hobby. They range from the guy who is marketing the convention, the girl who is negotiating convention costs to the person who is checking your badge as you enter a panel. They do it because they love it and they make the con run. Give them a nice "thank you" if they made your experience better and write down their name and report them to their superior if they ruined your day.

Nonprofit Organization - A huge majority of Anime Conventions are run by nonprofit organizations, Anime Expo is being run by the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, Otacon is run by Otacorp, Anime Los Angeles is run by the Institute for Specialized Literature, Inc. There are a few that are for profit, but they are few and far in between. Nonprofit means that the money you spend in the convention goes back to next year's convention. There are two classifications I would like to point out:
  • Nonprofit 501(c)(6) - Mutual beneficial nonprofit organization. This kind of organization promotes industries and tries to connect them. Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, the organization behind Anime Expo is the most famous example.
  • Nonprofit 501(c)(3) - Charitable organizations. As a charitable organization, donations can be tax-deductible. Many anime conventions are this kind of Nonprofit organization, like Otakorp Inc. behind Otakon.
Convention Operations - Better known as Con ops, these are the guys who you go to dealing with general convention issues, like a lost badge or to report an issue with a problem attendee.

Programming Operations - Known as Prog Ops, they do everything related to the programming guide. If a panel goes on for too long or gets cancelled, they are the ones to work their magic to bring things back to normal again.

Dealer Hall - A large hall that sells everything related to anime and manga. They sell lots of great material that is hard to find or impossible to get unless you know Japanese. There are a large variety of booths and many of them specialize in a certain thing. For example, if you went to Anime Jungle at Anime Expo, they would have lots of Anime figures.

Cosplay Gathering - A gathering of people wearing similar cosplay from the same series. There can also be cosplay gatherings on different themes or genres. There has been a surge of popularity creating Yaoi gatherings. I haven't seen a Yuri gathering yet, but I am sure someone out there is probably organizing one.

Industry Panels - A panel that is run by people who work in the industry. In larger anime conventions, these panels are used to announce recent license acquisitions or to talk about the state of the industry.

Head Honcho - That's a term that is used to describe the person who is the most powerful person running the convention. In smaller anime conventions, the head honcho is known as the "Convention Chair." In larger anime conventions that may use a more traditional corporate structure, the head honcho is normally the Chairman of the Board or the CEO. The head honcho is operational and many of their decisions make or break a convention.

Fan Panels - A panel run by fans, many of them are very knowledgeable on whatever subject is at hand.

There is a lot more that I can go through, but knowing these basics would make a discussion at any anime convention much easier to understand. It can be quite difficult since there is so much behind it, but when you know industry terminology, fan terminology, and convention terminology, it makes the daunting convention vernacular much easier to swallow.


Samuel Wall said...

Okay first, Ecchi and Hentai are different. Its a very subtle difference and I can't recall all the specifics at the moment, but they are different enough to warrant two separate definitions.

Second, it's PROG ops, not pro ops. That's probably just a typo, but I feel it needs to be stated.

Anonymous said...

Good Stuff Kris :D


KrisZ said...

Sam, I fixed the spelling error. H is ecchi and it is short for Hentai. When someone calls you an Ecchi or a Hentai, that is pretty much the same.

For a genre ecchi and hentai are different.

So the line of demarcation is the word usage: using it as a way to describe someone vs using it as a genre.

Ange W. said...

I would say a weeaboo is someone who acts embarassing, a Japanophile is kind of like... someone who appreciates Japanese culture, not necessarily acts out about it.

Great article, I really enjoyed reading it!

KrisZ said...

Ange, I don't disagree with you. I kind of wanted to make that demarcation between the two.

By virtue of going to many anime conventions, many of us Anime fans are Japanophiles. The thing is that we do not consider Japan to be an end all be all panacea for everything. Japan is a great country to visit and it has a unique culture, but it isn't perfect.

Anonymous said...

Being the homo fan I am, yaoi and yuri count as explicit R-18 stuff. And shoujo-ai and shounen-ai are the romance only, not sex stuff. People don't use the terms right usually, but...that's how they're supposed to be classified.

Nice list you have here though.