Popular Japanese Phrases Common in Anime that You Can Use in Real Life

Anime has been a continually growing global trend, rising and falling in seasons but never really dying out. Anime character phrases can, at times, be more famous than the anime itself - why? Anime phrases can be words beyond language barriers that people can understand, even if they can't speak Japanese.

From Japan to the World - From manga to anime, to the world

As a kid, I bet we all put our hands up when Goku needed power for his energy ball or imitate the flashy fast hand sign that Naruto does before saying the word "Kage Bunshin No Jutsu". If this brings back some childhood memories, let's go deeper into the wonders of anime.

Animation changed the world of entertainment. Cartoons have always become a part of our childhood; people watch it all around the world to entertain themselves. Japan gave the world an animation style so unique, it became a different category from modern cartoons, and it is called anime. With its highly sophisticated and detailed animation, the country's industry reached the hall of fame. The rise of anime can be traced back to the success of manga, a Japanese comic book, since a lot of animation plots were based on it. In the 17th century where technological advances in printing happened, many popular artists engaged in creating Japanese comic books and manga became a part of Japan's literature. In 1917, Japan's first animated films, created by Shimokawa Oten and Kouchi Junichi, were made. The first Japanese anime television show began after World War II and from then the popularity of anime began to ascend worldwide.

(※) Frederick S. Litten, "On the Earliest (Foreign) Animation Films Shown in Japanese Cinemas" pg. 1

Anime became a global trend and as  not everyone can comprehend the Japanese language, subbed and dubbed Japanese animations were introduced. Subbed anime or anime with subtitles can give you the closest feeling of comprehension if the translation was properly done. The original voice and tone of the actor certainly make the difference and the presence of the subtitles make it understandable. On the other hand, dubbed anime was done by replacing the original voices of the actor into one's language. But some of the dubbed anime in the 80s and 90s were incorrect and the lips of the characters may not be as synchronized as the actual voice. The quality of both dubbed and subbed anime have vastly improved since.

Anime phrases, either in English or Japanese are some of the words that will stick with us, making us remember characters even after the show. Sometimes, anime phrases can even set a character's personality that we so idolize, and so we often use their catchphrase.

Anime phrases that we can use in real life

先輩 Senpai: Use to refer to someone older or in a senior position than you, usually  an upperclassman who mentors you in school or an older coworker. Phrases like "Teach me, Senpai" or "Notice me, senpai" have become popular in English-speaking anime fandoms. The word senpai can also mean "teacher" or "master" but is rarely used as this.

いただきます Itadakimasu: This phrase is more likely to be used when an anime character is about to eat or the anime itself is a cooking genre. In the literal sense, this means "I humbly receive this" but it is commonly known as "Thank you for the food" or "let's eat".

先生 Sensei: This term means master/teacher. It is famous from anime that involve martial arts, but this term is also commonly used by a student.

ごめんなさい Gomennasai: Sorry. Everyone makes mistakes which is why this phrase is useful. This is the earnest way of apologizing in anime.

了解 Ryoukai: Famously used in anime that tackle a military theme, you can frequently hear the characters say "Ryoukai!" when taking orders because these words means "Roger that". This can be used with friends, but please don’t make the mistake of using this casually with your superiors at work.

頑張って Ganbatte: This phrase is used to encourage people. If you want to tell someone to be at their best or do their best, you can say "Ganbatte". Other forms of this words include “Ganbare”, “Ganbatte kudasai” or “Ganbarimashou” depending on your relationship with the person and the situation.

Here are some of the common phrases that you can easily use:

大丈夫/大丈夫です Daijoubu/Daijobu desu: Generally, means "fine", "I am fine" and a milder way of saying no, or refusing something

なに? Nani? - What?

すごい Sugoi - Amazing 

じゃあね Jaa ne - See ya! 

もしもし Moshi moshi - Hello (on the phone)

ちょっと待(ま)ってください Chotto matte kudasai - Please wait

And for the slightly more dramatic events in our lives:

なんだ/なに これ Nanda/Nani kore - What the hell! / What’s going on?

信じられない Shinjirarenai - I don't buy it/ I don't believe it 

出ていけ/出ていって Deteike/Deteitte - Go somewhere else or Get out!

Things to know

Just by regularly watching anime, you'll probably end up understanding some of the words even if you can't comprehend the Japanese language. Nowadays, the internet mainstreamed some of the anime lines and arguably the most famous of them all is "Omae wa mo shindeiru" then someone will reply "Nani".  You'll probably hear and read it even if you don't watch anime since it is well known in the videos and pictures of the social media community. The meaning of these two phrases are "You're dead already"/ Omae wa mo shindeiru and "What!?"/Nani but what exactly are these lines. It all started back in 1983 where Hokuto No Ken (Fist of the North Star) was aired. The villain in this series usually mocks the protagonist of how weak his attacks are but, to their surprise, the main character will respond with "You are already dead " and they usually reply with "What?!" before being torn into pieces.

Anime phrases are best shared with friends. The use of anime lines can spice up the casual and boring conversation that you're into. But there are cases where they seem inappropriate like the use of Ganbatte (do your best) to your senior, they might take this as a disrespect as it may sound like an order. To solve this, you may add "kudasai" to become “Ganbatte kudasai” (please do your best). One should always consider respect before using these phrases. For example, worlds like Deteike (Go somewhere else) and Nanda kore (what the hell) may sound discourteous to your seniors and people with different status like yours.

Anime has been a continually growing global trend.


Japan's animation took the world of entertainment into a whole new level. Anime usually bases its plot from the manga and a popular manga can also become a popular anime. Popular Japanese phrases like “Omae wa mo shindeiru - Nani” was derived from anime and it becomes an internet sensation. People should keep in mind courtesy and respect before saying anime phrases to someone else.

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