Project Haruhi

“Hikikomori” Added To Oxford Dictionary of English

I'm nice and safe all alone in my room...

Oh boy, the new Oxford Dictionary of English is out! You know what that means... it's time for bloggers like me to pad out their slow news days by overanalyzing any new pop culture terms Oxford added. Let's see, this edition's new words include staycation, vuvuzela, bromance, hikikomori...

Wait, hikikomori? Seriously?

hikikomori (hi·ki·ko·mo·ri)
Pronunciation: /hiˌkēkəˈmôri/
noun (plural same)
(in Japan) the abnormal avoidance of social contact, typically by adolescent males
a person who avoids social contact

Origin: Japanese, literally 'staying indoors, (social) withdrawal'

Wow. I guess the hikki phenomenon is so famous that even Oxford had to take notice. Their definition is surprisingly accurate too. Color me impressed, Oxford. And here I thought your dictionary was woefully ignorant of pop culture trends. I wonder what they have to say about other anime-related terms...

Find out more after the break!

otaku (o·ta·ku)
Pronunciation: /ōˈtäko͞o/
noun (plural same)
(in Japan) a young person who is obsessed with computers or particular aspects of popular culture to the detriment of their social skills

Origin: Japanese, literally 'your house', alluding to the reluctance of such young people to leave the house

Once again, surprisingly accurate. It would have been nice if they had added a footnote about the American meaning of otaku (i.e. the anime eqivalent of 'Trekkie'), but they nailed the original Japanese meaning of the word just fine. Nice!

anime (an·i·me)
Pronunciation: /ˈanəˌmā/
Japanese movie and television animation, often having a science fiction theme and sometimes including violent or explicitly sexual material. Compare with manga

Origin: 1980s: Japanese


What. The. Hell.

Seriously? Oxford, why did you feel the need to add the qualifiers 'science fiction,' 'violent' and 'sexual' to that definition? That reads like some boneheaded American's stereotypical misconception of anime, not something that belongs in a respected dictionary! Does the entry on movie mention pornography, slasher or exploration films? Of course not! Does the entry on literature mention Twilight or Harry Potter? Perish the thought! So why is anime characterized by a small fraction of its overall content?

Okay, so maybe anime is notorious for hentai and giant robots. I'll admit that much. But marginalizing an entire medium because of that is just ignorant! The most popular anime in the United States right now are Naruto, One Piece, and the indomitable Dragon Ball Z. None of those shows are sci-fi, and only Naruto has what could be considered "explicitly sexual content," if you count the Sexy Jutsu. Hell, even that is stretching incredulity. Furthermore, the highest-rated TV anime in Japan are either shonen series or kids shows! Seriously, Oxford, I expected better from you. Did your "research" merely consist of walking into a Best Buy and glancing over the anime section? Even Wikipedia's entry on anime is better than this tripe!

You know what? Two can play at this game. Here's a term I'd like to see added to the next edition of the ODE.

Oxford Dictionary of English (Ox·ford Dic·tion·ar·y of Eng·lish)
Pronunciation: /ˈäksfərd ˈdikSHəˌnerē əv ˈiNG(g)liSH/
An anachronistic tome which purports to be an authority on the English language

Origin: Written by a bunch of grumpy old professors, whose attempts to make their work seem more contemporary instead show them to be increasingly pathetic and out-of-touch

Think I'm being too harsh? Hey, I love anime, and you know what they say... all's fair in love and grammar war.


About Jon

Jon is a Japanese culture enthusiast, professional pervert and roleplaying fanatic who appreciates flexible gender identities. He enjoys science fiction, Gunpla, classical music and Red Stripe.

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately, you get a lot of stuff like this in academic writing. This happens when the only people you have to check things with are your peers (which would have happened, more than one person would have looked this over) who are just as ignorant of the topic as you are.

    I mean no disrespect to the people who work on the Oxford Dictionary… but I do have advice. Go to the building where they make the Oxford English-Japanese Dictionary and LET THEM LOOK IT OVER before you publish a Japanese word. In addition: if the word is from popular culture, do thorough research. Your dictionary is public and trusted by many people to be accurate. I know you have higher standards than this.

  • *in southern accent* Eh, anime? Ain’t them those Chinese porn cartoons? That’s their revenge for ‘Nam, y’know. Killin’ our brains with Dragon Sailor Z, or whatevah.

  • That is sadly something I could picture someone here saying. That and a little bit more southern’.

    *Note: I live in the south. It sucks here. GET ME OUT OF HERE*


    Project Haruhi (Pro·ject Har·u·hi)
    Pronunciation: LOL I DUNNO
    An anime reviewing site that hates every anime and publishes negative reviews about them. The best way to make every other reviewer look nice (with the possible exception of Yahtzee.)

    Origin: Written by ranky otakus who make you look like Mr. Popular.

  • Nice try, Alexander. I know it’s you.

    Thanks for comparing us to Yahtzee, by the way. What a compliment!

    • Pretty sure that wasn’t a comparison.

  • I would give my left leg to be compared to Yahtzee XD

    About the dictionary though, it did say “often having sci fi themes” which it does if you class mecha as sci fi; as a non-fan (is that even a word? Time to call ODE!!) of mecha It does seem that every other anime has at least one giant robot in it. I was suprised when Utawarerumono slapped them in at the end XD

    They also said “sometimes includes violence or explicitly sexual material” which…yeah it kinda does sometimes. The only problem I have with this is the “explicitly”, that should have been omitted because not every anime, like you said; is a Hentai. What I think they were trying to get at there was the fanservice which (you cannot deny!!) is everywhere; but not “explicit” by any stretch of the imagination. In this sense it is a pretty accurate definition for any westerner who is not in the know but “knows of” so to speak (or think they know of). When you look at it closely it isn’t marginalising anime to big robots, pub brawls and copius amounts of sex. What will marginalise anime is not the ignorance of the ODE but their patrons who will take a fleeting glance at the definition of anime and condemn us all as vicious, lecherous sci fi buffs >.>

    Enough defending though, they could have just put “Japanese animation” which is exactly what it is instead of making me look creepy for watching the stuff XD

    • If I recall, Ritsu dislikes Yahtzee…

  • Vic

    At first, I was pleased by the fact that “hikikomori” made it to the dictionary. Why? Well I happen to be a person who’s been interested in the term ever since I watched the anime “Welcome to the NHK”. For those who don’t know the series, It’s about a 22 year old man who’s life is falling apart ever since he secluded himself in his room for a period of 3 years (making him a hikikomori). Obviously, by doing so, he doesn’t have a job and his desperation catches the attention of a girl named Misaki. That aside, the anime caught my attention over a condition that I hadn’t identified before. As far as I could tell, the concept of a “hikikomori syndrome” (as I like to call it XD) had no translation to English language. Honestly, it surprised me that the Oxford Dictionary would simply adopt the word directly and move on. They did the best they could giving a definition, and I was pretty pleased everything… until I saw the concepts they defined as “anime”, “otaku”, etc.

    Well done spreading the word! You had all the right to be harsh, but you expressed yourself really well. Frankly, I was just as pissed off by the way Oxford defined those concepts. I mean, it’s really disappointing to see how such a well known dictionary used such ignorant definitions!

  • VXLbeast

    Lol, I love your rebuttle. Perfect.

    (Btw, thanks for turning me on to Not quite sure how I made it to this point without it.)

  • Completely unrelated, but that is a hulluva nice lightbox under the tablet and keyboard keyboard in the opening picture.

    I want one.

  • :D

    Well, maybe it’s there in order to make sure people don’t associate “animation” with “Oh, I watched cartoons on Saturday mornings growing up!” People have generally seemed to me to be more chill about reforming their expectations from “Isn’t that porn?” to “I think I watched a Sandra Bullock movie with this plot…” than they are about expecting the Fairly OddParents and then seeing boobs jiggle.

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  • Qz

    Anime (A’NI’ME)
    Pronunciation: Animax

    can’t be described

    Origin: Nihon

    Oxford Dictionary of English (Ox·ford Dic·tion·ar·y of Eng·lish)

    Pronunciation: /ˈäksfərd ˈdikSHəˌnerē əv ˈiNG(g)liSH/


    i’m f**king awesome
    Origin: Written by a bunch of grumpy old smelly, whose attempts
    to make their harem and seem more contemporary instead showing them to public to be
    increasingly pathetic and out-of-touch