I've got nothing else to really say here.

So there’s recently been this onslaught of people calling into question the term of animu and mangos; one is a corruption of the word “anime” which is, itself, a truncated form of “animation” that Japanese people use; the other is a fruit that sounds vaguely like “manga.

I personally don’t have a problem calling anime and manga by their corrupt names. I would even go so far as to refer to them by their portmanteau term: “animangos.” Why? Because it’s a unit of symbolic meaning that conveys what I mean without much getting lost in translation.

Sure, people come up to me and tell me its “unprofessional” or that its demeaning to the grand anime gods that preside over me, but really, animangos gets the job done. When I don’t have space to write out “anime and manga” over and over again, I can save five key strokes, FIVE. That’s a whole word I just saved myself from typing.

Still not satisfied? Let me lay it down then. I have a degree in communications and it comes with an understanding of the semantics and pragmatics of language. What this means is, I know how words convey meaning. You read these words I typed, and you comprehend what I’m telling you through shared meaning and the understanding of language. You and I share the concept of what “an apple” is, despite the words having nothing to do with spherical fruit. It’s the same when understanding what anime is.

Hayakawa was a great scholar. Just don't invite him to your big block party.

If I said, “Evangelion 2.0 is a feature length animation resembling Twilight and Blade Runner,” you would just as well understand it if I said “Evangelion 2.0 is a feature length anime/animu/cartoon/moving picture show resembling…” Semantically all of the noted terms symbolically equate to an animated feature.

To quote S.I. Hayakawa, the former President of San Francisco State College (often reviled for being that Nikkei that wasn’t “part of the movement” and as “that guy” that ruined a student demonstration during the late-60s student revolts by climbing onto a protester’s van to tear out speaker wires, but among communication scholars, a noteworthy scholar that warned the dangers of Hitler’s rhetoric during World War II) said, “the word is not the thing.”

What Hayakawa meant was that words do not physically represent something. So when I say animu, the meaning is symbolic as the term anime. Words themselves do not hold any sort of weight.

Seriously, all those people that wear corduroy and act like they "get" Japan because they read a few books on it and watched a few animus. Jeez, get over it!

The negative context we tend to feel from hearing “animu” is assigned from the self. If you think the term is degrading and only used by ironic hipsters that wear corduroy jackets in the summer when trying to be “in” without being considered part of the super nerdy anime crowd that’s “been there since the beginning” you got another thing coming.

If the context and use of “animu” is offensive, refusing to use it and telling some Internet troll to stop being so asinine is like telling the school yard bully to stop punching you in the arm – he’ll just keep punching you in the arm.

I, for one, embrace it. Animangos are a sassy way to denote my hobby, and cute to boot! Embracing the word and making it unironic should be the best way to erode the negative connotation the word holds. I’m sure a lot of people had similar feeling towards words like “Intrawebs” or “blogs,”  but owning and popularizing the term just turns people off and move on to something else.

So say it with me, “animangos.”

About Tomo Hirai

For more than half a decade, Tomo Hirai has whittled his time away playing video games and reading comics. He has been writing about Japanese pop-culture since his start at the Nichi Bei Times working on Anime/Manga special issues.


  1. Kyle Morton says

    I legiterally think this is both an awesome article and I learned something from it.

  2. I was one of those people who felt wordie (like a foodie, but for words) ire whenever I saw “animu” and “mango”, though like many things, the passion has waned over time. The combined word “animangos” somehow works me – maybe it’s because the boorish ending “mu” is overtaken by stronger sounding syllable “ma”. Actually, that sounds like a pretty frivolous explanation…

    [Hey, I can talk about animangos with my animigos! (anime & amigos)]


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tom Langston and Chiaki Hirai, Chiaki Hirai. Chiaki Hirai said: I feel terrible, but you know. New #Blog!:Animangos […]

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