Updated September 5, 2023
Popular Anime Phrases to Use in Japan
Lots of foreigners get interested in Japan in part due to an interest in anime.
Using this as their gateway, many learn the Japanese language with the help of anime phrases. Now, I'll be honest: not all Japanese phrases from anime are actually useful in your language learning. But it turns out that many of these anime phrases are commonly used in Japan, and they can help you get around when living there.
Sure, you should forego the high-pitched and overly dramatic voices, but many common anime phrases are part of daily life in Japan. If you’re an anime fan, you might wonder what these phrases mean, or how to actually use them in your everyday life.
So whether you're learning Japanese to get a tech job in Japan or just brushing up your skills, here are the top Japanese phrases in anime, starting from the most common words you can actually use.
In this article: 📝
Most Common Anime Phrases
Whether you watch an eclectic slice of life show or you’re a casual shōnen anime fan, there are some common phrases that characters use to talk. These can be greetings from your favorite shows or expressions that they use to talk to their friends and family.
These are common, everyday words, so they should be easy to remember. You'll hear them a lot. Some of the most common anime phrases include:
- おはようございます, Ohayōgozaimasu, Good Morning!
- こんにちわ, Konnichiwa, Hi/Hello/Good Afternoon!
- こんばんわ, Konbanwa, Good Evening!
- おやすみなさい, Oyasuminasai, Goodnight!
- さよなら, Sayonara, Goodbye
- ありがとうございます, Arigatōgozaimasu, Thank you very much!
- どういたしまして, Dōitashimashite, You’re Welcome
- すみません, Sumimasen, Excuse me
- ごめんなさい, Gomen nasai, I’m sorry
- 下さい, Kudasai, Please
- はい, Hai, Yes
- いいえ, Īe, No
- そうです, Sou desu, Yes [that's true]
- お元気ですか, Ogenki desu ka, How are you doing?
Here’s a quick rundown of these phrases and where you likely heard them.
Japanese Greetings In Anime
Whether you decide to live in Japan or simply enjoy anime, you’ll likely have every character greet each other. The word こんにちわ (Konnichiwa) is used as a general-purpose phrase for Hi or hello, used to greet people in semi-formal situations. It’s also the word for “Good Afternoon”, so you’ll never go wrong with it.
On the other hand, “Good Morning” and “Good Evening” are おはようございます (Ohayōgozaimasu) and こんばんわ (Konbanwa), respectively. These can be used in both formal and casual conversations, with the shorter おはよう (Ohayō) with friends.
If you watch high school anime like My Dress-Up Darling, you’ll also hear the shortened おは (Oha). This is a typical slang for “Good Morning,” but it’s not something you use in daily conversations.
To round them up, you likely have heard おやすみなさい (Oyasuminasai) and さよなら (Sayonara). These common anime phrases are “Goodnight” and “Goodbye,” respectively, which you’ll hear in many teen romance anime.
Here’s a tidbit: almost nobody uses the word さよなら (Sayonara) anymore. Some casual anime terms for “Goodbye” are またね (Mata ne) and じゃあね (Jaa ne). These both work as “goodbye”, with both meaning “see you later.”
It's easy to memorize words like "Sayonara" as a direct translation of an English word (in this case "goodbye"), but the reality is more complex. You need to study these words in context, and anime can help with this.
Common Japanese Anime Interjections
Now that you know the most common Japanese greetings used in anime, how about common interjections? How does your favorite anime character answer people?
One pair of common interjections are yes and no, which equate to はい (Hai) and いいえ (Īe). You’ll hear these words from almost every anime, from Neon Genesis Evangelion to One Piece. You’ll likely also hear variations of yes and no, depending on the situation.
Another common anime interjection is すみません (Sumimasen) or “Excuse me.” You likely have heard the word in almost every conversation in anime, used in virtually any situation. ごめんなさい (Gomen nasai) or I’m sorry is another word that works for any event in anime.
The Japanese are polite and consistently account for other people. The idea of 和 (wa) or harmony means people always want to be in lockstep. Being polite, apologizing, and saying excuse me is a must-do, especially if you’re planning to work in Japan.
Showing Gratitude In Anime
Apart from being polite, you’ll notice that anime characters, and the Japanese in general, are appreciative of others. Thank you or ありがとうございます (Arigatōgozaimasu) is an anime phrase that you’d want to be extra generous with.
There are many ways to say “thank you” in Japanese, with 感謝します (kansha shimasu) for more formal situations. You’ll hear this phrase in many workplace anime like Servant x Service and Working!! If somebody says thanks to you, どういたしまして (Dōitashimashite) or “you’re welcome” is in order.
Another simple to use the phrase you can use to sound cool is そうです (sou desu) or “I see”, which you use when you agree. If you’ve seen Goblin Slayer, he almost exclusively uses this phrase as an easy way to acknowledge others.
Useful Anime Phrases You Can Use In Real Life
Once you’re working in Japan, you’ll get to use your favorite anime phrases in real life. This doesn’t mean that you can use everything you see in anime. Considering most anime have casual and high school settings, you’d want to be smart about which ones to use.
Some good ones include:
- 頂きます, itadakimasu, Let’s eat
- 御馳走様(でした), gochisousama deshita, Thanks for the meal
- 行ってきます, ittekimasu, I’m going/See you later
- 行ってらっしゃい, itterasshai, Please come back/Take care
- ただいま, tadaima, I’m home
- おかえりなさい, okaerinasai, Welcome back
- 凄い, sugoi, Wow/Amazing
- 大丈夫, daijoubu, Okay
- 違う, chigau, Wrong/Different/Disagree
- よかった, yokatta, What a relief
- ちょっと待って, chotto matte, Wait a moment
The phrases in this list should be familiar to you, especially if you like anime. The first six phrases, for example, are something that every anime protagonist says at home. 頂きます (itadakimasu) is a must-do before you eat as a way to show your gratitude. 御馳走様(でした), (gochisousama(deshita)) or “thanks for the meal” is also a must.
You’ll also notice some anime characters say specific phrases when they go out and come back to their home. 行ってきます (ittekimasu) is a phrase you say to tell people at home that you’re leaving, where family members reply with 行ってらっしゃい (itterasshai) or take care.
When coming home, it’s helpful to greet people at home with ただいま (tadaima) or “I’m home.” If you’re welcoming someone back home, you can say おかえりなさい (okaerinasai) or “welcome back.” Others simply say the less formal おかえり (okaeri) in anime.
Simple Anime Expressions Japanese People Use
For anime fans, you’ve likely heard some words that almost every show uses. You’ll be surprised that these Japanese phrases are things you can use in real life with real people. If you’re working in Japan as a software developer, teacher, or any other job, these can help you blend in.
When people see something impressive, the word 凄い (sugoi) or amazing is a staple in anime. Whether it’s a thunderous dunk from Slam Dunk or just something mildly amusing, quick praise using 凄い (sugoi) should make someone’s day.
On the other hand, 大丈夫 (daijoubu) or okay is a word for okay. You can use it to ask if someone’s okay, using 大丈夫 ですか (daijoubu desu ka) or telling people you’re ok. If people say they’re ok, a quick よかった (yokatta) or “what a relief” should help you show you’re concerned.
You might have also heard of the word 違う (chigau), a general term for disagreement. It’s an easy-to-use word in everyday Japanese to tell people they’re wrong about a particular fact. If you need more time to think or want to stop something, a quick ちょっと待って (chotto matte) or “wait a moment” should also work for you.
Japanese Expressions Used In Anime and Daily Life
Expressing yourself is an integral part of learning Japanese. If you like watching anime, chances are you’ve heard some iconic anime expressions, but you likely won’t use everything. Sure, 捧ぐ (sasageyo) and 戦え (tatakae) are cool, but you won’t be using them any time soon.
There are still a ton of cool anime expressions that you’ll still get to use once you start living or studying in Japan. Some of these include:
- かっこいい, kakkoī, Cool
- 可愛い, kawaii, Cute
- しょうがない, shou ga nai, It can’t be helped
- もちろん, mochiron, Of course
- お腹すいた, onaka suita, I’m hungry
- 無理無理, muri muri, That’s impossible
- 助けて, tasukete, Help
Do these Japanese phrases look familiar? They’re some of the most common anime phrases and you can also try them in daily conversations. There are some more that you’d want to use specifically for different purposes.
For example, if you like something or someone, there are varying degrees of liking that you can express. 好き (suki) is the simplest word for like, which evolves into 大好き (daisuki) if you truly love something or someone. If you want to express something you love them, 愛してる (aishiteru) is the quintessential “I love you.”
On the other side of the coin, disliking something can evoke different words, and you likely heard anime characters say these phrases too. The most common is 嫌い (kirai) or hate, with a stronger 大嫌い (daikirai) or abhor. You also hear 嫌だ (iya da), which is a childish way of saying you hate something happening.
Japanese Anime Phrases You Need To Be Careful About
An article about the most common anime phrases is never complete without having a few words that you should be careful before using. If you’re working or studying in Japan, you want to avoid a few phrases as much as possible, unless you’re in a big argument. Even then, you’re unlikely to get anything good out of these.
For starters, you would want to avoid using rude words like:
- お前, omae, You
- うるさい, urusai, Shut up
- 畜生, chikushō, Damn it
- 馬鹿野郎, bakayaro, Foolish person
- この野郎, konoyaro, Bastard
- 糞, kuso, Sh*t
- 黙れ damare, Shut up
- 消えろ, kiero, Piss off
- ごみ, gomi, Rubbish
As you can see, many of these words are either rude, childish or straight-up bad words that you hear from anime. While you can use this when joking around with close friends, it’s best to move away from this language.
Let’s also talk about the word 馬鹿 (baka) or stupid, which is one of the most common insults in anime. This, together with its Kansai-ben 阿呆 (aho), are no-no’s if you’re in a formal or professional environment. While they have their playful use in casual conversation, you’d want to steer clear of these words.
Some other common anime phrases like 死ね (shine) or die can be problematic too. Most contexts of using this word give it a similar nuance to English expletives in the Japanese language. Why? You’re wishing harm upon someone, which is frowned upon in Japan.
Key Takeaways When Using Japanese Phrases From Anime
Now that you know the most common Japanese phrases in anime, this begs the question: how should you use these? If you’re attempting to use anime phrases, especially outside our “commonly used” list, there are important rules to remember.
For starters, many anime words are either made up, slang, have no actual use in daily life, or are simply too casual. A good example is Naruto’s だってばよ (dattebayo), which has no real meaning in real-life Japan. You would want to be careful not to use words you don’t understand, as they can be rude.
You would also want to stick with polite forms of words with strangers and colleagues when working in Japan. Learning Keigo can be a challenge but it should be worth it. You would also want to start with a more formalized learning path of the Japanese language.
The Bottom Line
Anime is a fantastic gateway into Japan, the Japanese culture, and its language. Learning anime phrases can help you absorb the Japanese language faster through osmosis. Regardless, you want to be extra careful. Pick and choose the words you use and use anime to supplement learning.
If you plan on living in Japan, some quick anime phrases can stop you from asking “Nani?!” anymore. Learn Japanese now and enjoy one of the most eclectic cultures today.
Want to put these phrases to the test? Check out our list of software developer jobs in Japan to work in Japan.
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