You might have heard the word “waifu” used in various anime forums or even in anime and manga. The world of anime is full of unique terms and concepts! It can be pretty wacky and confusing for new members of the anime community or those that look at us from the outside. One of these terms that has gained widespread use is “waifu.” But what does waifu mean?
In short, “waifu” is a term used to describe a female character from an anime, manga, or video game that someone is deeply emotionally attached to. In this article, we will explore the meaning of the term “waifu,” its evolution within the anime community, and the controversy surrounding it.
What Does Waifu Mean in Anime?
The term “waifu” is a Romanized version of the Japanese word “ワイフ” (waifu). This Japanese word is itself derived from the English word “wife.”
This is similar to how the Japanese word “anime” is derived from the English word “animation.” Both anime and waifu are English loanwords that have taken on entirely new meanings in Japanese!
However, the term has taken on a different meaning in the anime and otaku communities, where it is used to refer to a fictional female character that a fan is extremely attached to, to the point of almost considering said character their “wife.”
The History of the Word Waifu
The word “waifu” was popularized in the early 2000s when it was featured in Azumanga Daioh. Waifu was already in use long before Azumanga Daioh, but this show really boosted the popularity of the waifu concept to what we know today.
In episode 15 of the anime or chapter 11 of the manga, Kimura dropped a picture of a beautiful woman. The members of the main cast found it and asked who she was, to which Kimura replied by calling her “My Waifu.”
This moment became a meme within the anime community, helping to spread the term “waifu” to a wider audience.
The term “waifu” began gaining traction in Western otaku communities in the late 2000s to early 2010s. As more and more fans discovered the term through online forums and social media, it quickly became a shorthand for expressing emotional attachment to fictional female characters.
However, the term “waifu” has also been criticized by some people, who see it as objectifying or sexualizing female characters. Others have argued that the term isn’t meant to be used in serious settings, so it doesn’t matter.
Despite these controversies, the term “waifu” remains a widely recognized and used term within the anime and otaku communities. It has also inspired a range of derivative terms, such as “husbando” (the male equivalent of “waifu”) and “waifu wars” (a playful competition between fans over who has the best waifu).
Who Is Considered a Waifu?
The term “waifu” is often used to refer to a female anime character who is considered ideal or perfect by a fan. There is no strict set of criteria for what makes a character a waifu. Ultimately, whether a character is viewed as a waifu is up to each individual fan’s personal preferences and opinions.
However, some common characteristics tend to be associated with the term. The qualifications that make a character a waifu aren’t set in stone, but here are some of the qualities that the most popular waifus have in common:
- Appearance: Many waifus are known for their distinctive and attractive physical appearance, such as colorful hair, large eyes, and curvy figures. They may also have specific clothing or accessories that add to their appeal.
- Personality: Waifus are often characterized as having appealing personalities, such as being kind, cheerful, intelligent, or strong-willed. They may also have quirks or flaws that make them more relatable or endearing to fans, especially if the fans can see part of themselves in that character.
- Popularity: Waifus tend to be characters with a significant fan following, often due to their appearance, personality, or role in a popular anime or manga series.
- Fan appeal: Waifus may be created with the intention of appealing to a specific demographic of fans, such as otaku who are attracted to moe or kawaii characters.
Do Japanese People use “Waifu” in Real Life?
While the term “waifu” originated from how Japanese people pronounced the English word “wife,” it came to mean something completely different. English speakers use waifu to represent a beloved female fictional character, but Japanese people don’t use it in the same way.
Let’s take a look at some Japanese words for “wife.”
In Japan, the term “tsuma” (妻) is the most commonly used word for “wife.” It is a polite and formal way of referring to one’s wife. Other terms like “kanai” (家内) or “okusan” (奥さん) are also used depending on the level of familiarity and the situation.
“Kanai” is an older and more traditional way of referring to one’s wife. It is still used in rural areas. It can be translated as “the one inside the house” and is considered a respectful term. Meanwhile, “okusan” is a more familiar and affectionate way of addressing one’s wife. It can be translated as “my dear wife” or “my better half” and is often used in casual or intimate settings.
The concept of having a “waifu,” as it is known in English, is more of a subculture within the anime and otaku community. It is not as commonly recognized or understood outside of it in Japan.
Even though Japanese people don’t use “waifu” in their everyday lives to refer to their real wives, those who are familiar with the anime and otaku culture may use the term “waifu” in the same way as it is used in English. Some Japanese companies have even started using the term “waifu” to market their products, particularly in the video game industry, which may contribute to more widespread use of the term!
Is Waifu an Offensive Term?
While not necessarily an offensive word, it is important to know that waifu is considered a slang term and may not be widely understood or accepted outside the anime community. In addition, it is essential to use the term “waifu” appropriately and respectfully without being offensive or disrespectful to others.
Referring to real women as “waifu” can be seen as disrespectful, objectifying, and inappropriate. Using this term to refer to real women can suggest that they are being treated as objects or fantasies rather than as individuals with their own thoughts, feelings, and identities.
Furthermore, the term “waifu” is often used to describe an idealized version of a female character, which may not accurately represent real women or their experiences.
Using this term to refer to real women can create unrealistic expectations and standards for women’s behavior and appearance. Overall, using the word “waifu” to refer to real women is not appropriate or respectful and can be seen as objectifying and offensive.
It’s important to note that, even among otakus, the term “waifu” is often used tongue-in-cheek or humorously. It’s become unpopular for even the most hardcore otakus to use the word waifu unironically, which is why it’s most often used in a joking manner.
How To Use Waifu in a Sentence
Now that you know the meaning of waifu, you might want to discover exactly how to use the term in a sentence.
Waifu can only be used in casual settings when you’re hanging out with friends or talking to other anime fans who are familiar with the term. Here are just a few examples:
- “I’ve been binge-watching this new anime series, and I think I’ve found my new waifu.”
- “I don’t care what anyone says, Rem from Re:Zero is the ultimate waifu.”
- “I just bought a new waifu pillow featuring my favorite anime character.”
- “I can’t believe my friend actually got a tattoo of his waifu on his arm.”
- “My waifu is so perfect. She’s everything I could ever want in a partner.”
What Is the Correct Way To Pronounce Waifu?
“Waifu” is pronounced as “wai-fu” with two syllables. “Wai” is pronounced like “why,” and “fu” is pronounced like the word “foo.” The full pronunciation is wai-fu, emphasizing the first syllable, “wai.” It’s very easy to say since it’s an English loanword, after all. Try it out yourself!
In conclusion, the term “waifu” has become a widely used and sometimes controversial term within the anime and otaku subculture. Some fans see “waifu” as a harmless and playful way to express their love for their favorite female characters, and others see it as a problematic term that objectifies and sexualizes women.
Ultimately, the meaning and usage of “waifu” are up to each fan’s interpretation and perspective. By understanding its history and cultural significance, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the unique and diverse world of anime fandom. Now that you know what waifu means, will you use it yourself?