First-Person Pronouns

Words for "I" and words for "you" tend to be paired: If someone calls themselves "boku," then they'll probably call you "kimi," and so on. The reciprocal pronouns are in the far right column.

Here they are, from most to least polite:

Watakushi The most excruciatingly polite form of "I." Ordinary Japanese use this in ultraformal situations--giving a speech, meeting a higher-up, etc. In anime, the only characters who use watakushi as an everyday pronoun tend to be princesses, high priestesses, and the like.

Characters: Relena from Gundam Wing, Ayeka from Tenchi Muyo!, Shilfiel from Slayers.

Addressee's title or name
Watashi Characters: Hotohori from Fushigi Yuugi, Anata
AtashiWomen's Japanese Characters: Lina Inverse from Slayers, Kagome from Inu-Yasha, Miaka and Nuriko from Fushigi Yuugi. AntaWomen's Japanese
BokuMen's Japanese Characters: Amiboshi from Fushigi Yuugi, Tia Noto Yoko from Bastard!. KimiMen's Japanese
OreMen's Japanese This is the biggie--the height of male fashion, the only pronoun the self-respecting macho man is wearing this season. Just about every male (and a few of the females) with enough gonads to appear in a fighting anime is going to use this one. In real life, it's standard macho talk.

Characters: Yuusuke, Kuwabara, Hiei, Kurama (!), and damn near every other male from Yuu Yuu Hakusho, Gourry and Zelgadis from Slayers, Inu-Yasha from Inu-Yasha, Ryouko from Tenchi Muyo!.

OmaeMen's Japanese

Of that hundred ways to say "I," the five up top cover most situations.

Most of these don't have balls beside them because they show up so rarely that I can't get a handle on them. It's likely that the ore variants are male, and wai is probably masculine, too. If you have a better idea about what they mean, please drop me a note and I'll credit you when I fix the page.

Ore-samaMen's JapaneseMen's Japanese Anyone boastful enough to call himself "lord me" deserves not one blue ball, but two. A few delinquents and bandit types use it when they're about to kick the snot out of someone, but no one uses it all the time.

Characters: Kuwabara from Yuu Yuu Hakusho (when he's revving up to kick tail, or whatever it is that he does), Big Zenki from Zenki (most of the time, but then, Big Zenki's sole function is to kick tail).

Washi This is an old short form of watakushi still used by men of the last generation. It's a 50-year-old middle-manager sort of word. Men who say "washi" are also likely to call girls -kun.

In the past, washi was more of an all-purpose pronoun, so you'll occasionally come across a woman in a story set in old Japan who uses it.

Characters: Koenma from Yuu Yuu Hakusho, Kaede from Inu-Yasha.

Wai This is a Kansai-ben (actually, Osaka-ben) short form of watakushi. (See the Kansai-ben page for more information.)

Characters: Enjouji Kei from Kizuna.

Ware Formal.

Characters: Lina Inverse from Slayers, when she recites the Dragon Slave.

Wareware Very formal; often means "we." It pops up a lot in formal speeches.

Characters: Damn near every talking head in Gundam Wing.

Ora A dialect form of ore.

Characters: Gokuu from Dragonball, Shippou from Inu-Yasha.

Oira A dialect form of ore.

Characters: Chichiri from Fushigi Yuugi.

[Name]-chanWomen's Japanese Little girls sometimes call themselves by their own names or nicknames and -chan rather than saying "I": Sasami-chan asagohan ryouri suru wa! - Sasami-chan will make breakfast! Fortunately, it's a kiddie thing. Most of the girls and women you'll see will have dropped it a while back, regardless of what other cutesy affectations they've dragged with them into quasi-adulthood.
Uchi Possibly informal; this is usually Kansai-ben. In ordinary speech, uchi is a word which the speaker uses to refer to his or her own house.

Characters: Alcyone from Magic Knights Rayearth.

Sessha An obsolete humble form.

Characters: Kaede from Inu-Yasha.

Chin Only the Japanese Emperor uses this form. (Or at least he did in olden times; does anyone know whether he still does?) "We, the Emperor..." is chin omou ni...

Characters: Though you'd think that characters like Hotohori from Fushigi Yuugi would drop this one all over the place, no anime character I've heard of uses it. It may still be reserved for the Emperor.

Gusei Humble form.
Hishou "This wretch," a pronoun in the grand old "I am but a poor and feeble peon trembling in your mighty shadow, please don't spit on me" honorific tradition. Hishou can also be used to call the other person a wretch, so lots of fun can be had by a mind with a fine appreciation of ambiguity.
Touhou Can also mean "us."
Warehito Means "myself and others."
Daikou Boastful.
Naikou Boastful.