Anime Glossary Reference Materials
A mini-dictionary of terms commonly used by anime fans or in the writing at this site.
A handy reference for all those times our weird jargon leaves you wondering "What does that mean?" If there's a term we've overlooked, please let us know.
Noun: Videophile term for true widescreen video on a DVD; also known as "enhanced widescreen."
There are two ways to put widescreen video (such as a theatrical movie or show produced for HDTV) on a DVD: The bad way, letterbox, and the good way, anamorphic. With the bad way, the video is stored with the same 4:3 width to height ratio as an old TV, with black bars at the top and bottom of the screen to compensate for the wide video. On anamorphic DVDs the widescreen version of the video is squeezed to fill the whole frame, resulting in more detail in the image.
On an old-fashioned TV, most DVD players automatically add the black bars to the image; on a widescreen TV an anamorphic DVD will be stretched to fill the screen and end up looking sharper than a letterboxed widescreen one. Almost all DVDs (anime or otherwise) of widescreen productions are anamorphic; only a handful of (older) US-release widescreen anime DVDs aren't.
Noun: Animation in the style developed and commonly used in Japan since the 1950s.
Generally refers to the artistic style, but also a style of characterization and stories. Can also be used to describe comics and other still art drawn in the same style, though manga is more commonly used for that meaning. Comes from the Japanese word for animation. Some people, incorrectly, insist it only applies to animation produced in Japan; in reality, anime is a style, and can be produced by any country, though most of it is primarily from Japan at this point.
Noun: Fool, idiot.
The Japanese word for idiot or fool. A common insult (in fact it's one of the only ones) in Japan (and as a result anime), this has been picked up by English-speaking fans. Very commonly used in fanfics or just as an expression. The sentence version, "[name] no baka," is also relatively commonly used (probably picked up from Akane's frequent use of the phrase "Ranma no baka" in Ranma 1/2).
Noun: Background music.
The music (usually instrumental) that you hear in the background of anime.
An anthropomorphic, female, cat-human hybrid character.
Generally a cute girl with catlike ears on top of her head and possibly a tail, though the category extends through humanoid girls with fur and generally feline features (whiskers, claws, etc). Catboy is also occasionally used. See furry for a more general term for furry humanoids.
Noun: A single drawing on transparent plastic used in the production of animation.
Cels are (usually) hand painted on a piece of transparent acetate and overlaid on a background picture to produce one frame of animation. Cels are popular anime collectors' items, and can be bought from numerous web-based businesses. Almost all modern animation is produced with digitally painted artwork, rather than hand-painted physical cels, although these images are still sometimes called cels, as in digital cels.
Noun: Computer Graphics.
Usually this refers to 3D animation (or backgrounds rendered from 3D models) done with computers, which is common in newer anime productions. It can also be used to describe art drawn on a computer, including traditional-looking animation, but that is a less common use.
- character designer
The person who designs the look of each character in an animated production.
This important member of the staff of an anime production does prototype drawings, on which the animated art will be based, for each character's facial expressions relating to different moods and emotions. They design the look of each character's face, hair, and usually clothes. Note that in some cases the character designer is not the original creator of the characters, but instead interprets the original creator's style to create the prototypes to be animated.
Noun: Short for convention--an official gathering of anime vendors and fans.
Anime conventions range from relatively small regional affairs to massive gatherings of thousands of fans from all over the country they're held in; standard features include anime viewing rooms, autograph sessions and talks by special guests (at large cons these are frequently Japanese comic artists and voice actors), cosplay areas, and vendor rooms in which anime goods of all sorts can be bought.
Costume Play; either the act of dressing up as favorite characters, or a sort of amateur theater in which fans in costume reenact scenes from anime.
Cosplay is used to refer to both the act of reenacting scenes from anime dressed as the characters and the act of dressing up with no theater involved (generally for photographs). The theater version is mostly done at conventions, while simple dress-up is widespread. The word is an Americanization of a Japanization of Costume Play; that phrase was adopted by the Japanese and shortened into Cosu-purei, which has been readopted into English as Cosplay (both versions have the same meaning).
Noun: Digital fansub.
A digitally produced and distributed fansub. The explosion in popularity of internet distribution has rendered this term all but dead; all fansubs are now digisubs.
While the term originally distinguished computer-produced and distributed fansubs from fansubs produced using older analog hardware, they rapidly replaced copied VHS tapes as the preferred method of distributing fansubs. Digisubs were first shared/traded by fans using Internet file sharing software such as the now-defunct Hotline, and are now ubiquitous anywhere video is shared.
Noun: Comics or artwork depicting alternate or unauthorized versions of characters.
There are several types of Doujinshi. Most generally, Doujinshi are unofficial comic books (or other art, possibly digital), usually by an amateur, that is based on characters not owned by the writer/artist. Somewhat like fanfiction. Depending on who publishes these, they can range from legitimate to completely illegal, frequently the latter.
The second definition follows; the thing is, most Doujinshi are that way because they are about subjects that wouldn't be covered in the actual series--that is to say, adult topics. Again, these range from somewhat more mature versions to outright pornography, and from legit to illegal (almost always the latter). Note that despite being technically illegal, these are generally tolerated in Japan.
The third version is collections of (mostly erotic) amateur art distributed in underground channels in digital form (long ago on floppies, and now the Internet, mostly message boards). Once in a while one of these artists will gain some notoriety and their works may make it to a commercial collection (book or CD) of some sort.
Noun: Anime that has had the original dialogue replaced with dialogue in another language
Verb: The act of re-recording the dialogue of a program with dialogue in another language.
In the context of Anime, it almost always means a Japanese show dubbed with voices in English or another language (also, at times, songs as well). Dubs were until recently more popular than subs, though the proliferation of fan-subtitled anime and acceptance of subtitling in general has made dubs, if anything, less common. Some fans only like dubbed versions, others ("purists") hate them with a passion, and a smaller third group will accept either.
Noun: Digital Video Disc or Digital Versatile Disc (the industry never made up its mind).
A CD sized disc, with enough space to store a full length movie in a digital format (about two hours of MPEG-2 encoded video, if you're interested, and more can be stuffed into a dual-layer disc, although discs can hold significantly more or less depending on the video quality). DVD is the dominant format for US-released anime, though streaming video from legit sources like Hulu is rapidly gaining popularity. Blu-ray is also starting to gain traction as of the beginning of 2010, but it is still a niche format.
DVDs provide for multiple audio tracks and subtitles that can be turned off, meaning that most US anime DVDs include both the subtitled and dubbed version; less popular series are often subtitled-only, as there isn't enough of a market to support the cost of an English dub.
Noun: Pervert, lech.
A Japanese word for pervert (though the connotations are somewhat more mild--see hentai for a stronger version). Usually used by American fans to refer to anime and related art of an adult nature. Commonly used term on the web. Properly written H in Japanese, ecchi has an interesting linguistic origin: the Japanese word for pervert is hentai. This was sometimes abbreviated (by the Japanese) as H, which in this case is, in turn, pronounced (again, by the Japanese) ecchi. The word H/ecchi has since developed into a slightly different meaning in Japan; it most frequently refers to anything erotic, though it is still used as a relatively mild insult.
Noun: An image or very short bit of animation inserted in the middle of an episode.
Eyecatches are still images or very short bits of animation, usually including a musical flourish and a series' title, that are (usually) inserted into the middle of each episode of a Japanese TV series. Two halves of the eyecatch usually frame the mid-episode commercial break. Originally these were to make it easier for the station to transition to or from a commercial, but due to popularity among fans some newer OVAs also include these.
Noun: Artwork drawn by fans of their favorite characters.
Basically, the artistic version of fanfiction. Fanart is usually restricted to single images; see Doujinshi for the comic form.
Noun: An anime dub produced by fans.
A variant of the fansub, these are anime videos dubbed by fans. They are extremely rare, and only a handful exist. Parody dubs are the most common type of fandub by far; these intentionally alter the dialogue and plot for humorous effect, in the same way as the Woody Allen movie "What's Up Tiger Lilly."
Noun: An unauthorized story, written by fans, involving characters from an existing story.
Fanfics are usually created by fans who want to extend existing stories past the official storyline of books or movies. Anime- or manga-based fanfics are popular, though fanfiction exists about many other types of characters, including some non-fictional ones. Though (almost by definition) created without the approval of the creators/owners of the characters they portray, these writings are generally accepted as a display of affection by dedicated fans. Usually written in installments and published on the Internet, the content ranges from continuations of the official story to improbable situations to erotica, and the quality of writing from crude to very skilled. Note that fanfics in general can be referred to as fanfiction.
Noun: Unauthorized stories written by fans about their favorite characters.
Fanfiction is the general term for stories written by fans about their favorite characters, without the approval of the creator/owner of the characters. See fanfic, above, for more detail, but note that fanfic refers to an individual story ("This is a good fanfic" or "I like fanfics"), while fanfiction is used similarly to the plural to describe the type of material as a whole ("I like fanfiction").
Noun: Material in a story included specifically to please a certain group of fans.
Usually used to mean, basically, otherwise unnecessary stuff thrown into a story to titillate adolescent male fans. It mostly includes shower/bath scenes or flashes of underwear that usually have little to do with the story but seem to be generally appreciated by fans (or at least the teenaged male ones). Also can be used more generally (if less frequently) to refer to almost anything unrelated to the story but included to please fans--fancy outfits, flashy mecha, a cute animal, that sort of thing.
Also sometimes written as two words, "fan service."
Noun: A video translated and subtitled by anime fans, rather than a professional company.
Fansubs are of widely varying quality (from near-professional to extremely crude), and were for years distributed by fans willing to spend the time to copy and mail tapes for the cost of shipping and the blank video. During the '00s use, inexpensive subtitling software and the explosion of internet file distribution caused pure-digital fansubs to rapidly displace older methods of distribution. It also exponentially expanded the quantity, quality, and availability of fansubs. They can now be found anywhere video is shared, from YouTube to BitTorrent.
Fansubs are, traditionally, tolerated by content creators, as they are only available for series that have not yet been translated into English officially, and when done properly are not used to make a profit. They are very popular with many serious fans, as well as those who like uncut (and perhaps subtitled) versions of series only available in an edited (and/or dubbed) official version. In a few cases companies have (apparently) licensed a series and used an existing fansubbed version to get digital distribution started immediately, with almost no production costs.
Fansubs are technically illegal, although opinions from an ethical standpoint are mixed. Most fans accept them unquestioningly, and there are cases where fansubs have served as underground advertising for untranslated series, but there have been others where companies were reluctant to license anime due to market saturation of fansubs. The effect of widely available digisubs on the anime market is not entirely clear, as with all other digital piracy.
Noun: Anthropomorphic, usually humanoid versions of animals.
Used as a noun, furry in an anime context most commonly refers to characters that are cat/human hybrids (aka catgirls). Almost always humanoid with full-body fur, but specific features can range from mostly human (though cat/dog like ears on top of the head are very common) to more animal-like, featuring muzzle, whiskers, and paws.
Noun: Anthropomorphic characters and their fans, usually with an emphasis on sexuality
Adjective: Things relating to the above.
In broader terms, furry is used to describe a general sub-section of anthropomorphics (animals given traits usually attributed to humans); it is at times used to categorize all things featuring anthropomorphic characters with fur, the furry characters themselves ("a furry"), or the people who are fans of these characters and stories featuring them. Though not exclusively, furry frequently has a sexual connotation, and the term arose along with the rise in popularity of erotic anthropomorphic art during the 1980s. The term is, in some connotations, used to describe the related fetish.
Adjective: Short for the Japanese word hentai.
Short for the Japanese word hentai and pronounced (at least by the Japanese) ecchi, English speaking fans usually read it as if it were the letter. See the definition for both of those terms for details, but note that H is frequently combined with other words to point out adult content: H-anime, for example, would be adult anime.
Say: "H" or "Etch-ee"
The Japanese word for pervert. It is commonly used by English-speaking fans to refer to pornographic anime. Also used occasionally (particularly on the web or in fanfics) as an insult, with the same meaning as it has in Japanese. Note that hentai and ecchi are directly related words in Japanese (hentai was abbreviated as H, which is pronounced ecchi), but the connotation of hentai is now closer to the English deviant or pervert, while ecchi is more like lech or dirty, and generally milder.
- image album
Noun: A CD of music selected or written to accompany a comic book.
In Japan, popular manga series will frequently have one or more CDs of appropriately-themed music selected or created to accompany them as a sort of soundtrack (and one more thing for fans to buy).
Image albums for anime movies or series are also occasionally produced; in these cases the music selections may inclue actual background music or theme songs from the production, combined with additional songs or pieces that are thematically appropriate (and, sometimes, sung by the characters themselves). In this case image albums are usually in addition to a standard soundtrack album.
- Japanamation (or Japanimation)
Noun: Japanese Animation; also crude, old-style Japanese animation.
An old, now rarely used Americanization of Japanese Animation--see anime. Now sometimes used derisively by anime fans to refer to crudely produced anime; things that resemble shows like Speed Racer, which were popular when the term was in use.
Noun: Japanese Anime
This clunky Americanization of Japanese anime is rarely if ever used. Anime is now accepted as the preferred term, though ironically now that anime is no longer an exclusively Japanese art form, the phrase Japanese anime is not redundant. However, the awkward sound of Japanime will probably prevent it from ever being widely used.
Adjective: A style of anime artwork and story targeted at young adult women.
Generally targeted at college students and older women, josei comics and anime usually feature real-world or otherwise realistic settings, with stories focused on character drama and adult romance and relationships. Josei stories tend to me more reserved than their younger-audience-focused shoujo relatives, with more emphasis on realistic emotional drama than exaggerated romance and tragedy.
The male-targeted equivalent is seinen, which has some thematic and stylistic overlap but tends to be considerably more violent, and also has more of a tendency toward science fiction or fantasy settings.
The Japanese word for cute, since it is often used in anime (exclaiming "Kawaii!"), is frequently used as an interjection, particularly in writing.
Noun: The type of plastic, clamshell case most commonly used to hold DVDs.
These are also called Amaray keep cases, probably after the first company to manufacture them. There are other, similar, types/brands of plastic DVD cases, such as the boxier AlphaPak or the similar but extra-slim Thinpack, common in box sets.
Noun: A detailed animation cel drawn by one of the head artists on the production team.
Lead animators, who usually have more skill and are higher in the hierarchy than the rest of the artists in an animation studio, only draw keyframes. Keyframes usually come at the beginning and end of a particular animation sequence, to provide an artistically consistent, well-drawn starting and ending point for the sequence. The space between keyframes is filled with more frames by other (lower paid) artists, producing a smooth transition from, say, one position to another. Still shots (such as a close-up of the main character's face) are almost always keyframes.
Noun: Large CD-like video discs once relatively popular among serious anime fans.
Though eventually killed by the massive popularity of DVDs (and their superiority in all areas), LaserDiscs (frequently abbreviated LDs) were once a relatively popular video format among serious movie buffs. The 12-inch optical discs used an analog video format and provided superior video quality to VHS (comparable to a DVD in some cases), as well as the ability to have two audio tracks. US-release anime LaserDiscs frequently included both the English dubbed and Japanese soundtracks, with subtitles available through closed captions.
Though their popularity in the US was limited to movie buffs, LaserDiscs were slightly more popular in Japan and were particularly big with Japanese anime fans--almost all animation in Japan ended up on a LaserDisc, and VHS tapes were, in some cases, actually less popular. Probably as a result, DVDs did not initially take off in Japan with quite as much vigor as in the States, but while LaserDiscs held out much longer, they eventually gave way to DVDs.
Noun: Abbreviation for LaserDisc.
Adjective: Mature content.
A Japanese expression that has made its way into the vocabulary of English-speaking fans; it is used to refer to mature content or erotic situations, though it tends to be used to describe fairly mild material. For example, fanfics containing raunchy material or erotic scenes are frequently referred to as lemony or something similar. Somewhat similar to ecchi, although lemon usually has milder connotations.
Verb: Placing black bars at the top and bottom of the screen to allow a standard TV to display a wider image.
Letterboxing is placing those black bars at the top and bottom of the screen that let a 4:3 width-to-height ratio TV display a movie filmed with a wider aspect ratio (most commonly 16:9, though there are others). Has become common on videos in America. Most DVDs of theatrical movies will appear letterboxed on a standard TV, but the technology is somewhat different; the DVD stores the whole image, and the DVD player adds the black bars for a TV that can't display the whole picture--see anamorphic. Since an anamorphic DVD has a higher quality image than a letterboxed DVD when used with high-end video equipment (even though both will look the same--with the black bars--on a standard TV), anamorphic DVDs are better than letterboxed DVDs. In anime, you will usually only see letterboxing on movies that were released theatrically in Japan (and even then, some movies weren't filmed in widescreen ratio). Note, though, that shows made for the HDTV format are usually widescreen, which means nearly all anime produced since the mid to late '00s (TV or OAV), in part because widescreen TVs caught on faster in Japan than elsewhere.
- magical girl
Adjective: Generally used to refer to the genre of stories involving a normal schoolgirl who is given magical powers.
There is some disagreement about the exact definition, but this term is generally used to refer to the genre of stories, geared toward younger (preteen) female viewers, involving a normal schoolgirl who is given magical powers (inevitably involving transformation of some sort) and usually expected to save the world. Some definitions focus more on the magical superhero-style powers, while others assume that being thrown into an alternate world as a savior is more important. Sailor Moon is the classic example, though the genre has been around since the '70s. The Japanese language version, mahou shoujo, is also occasionally used.
- mahou shoujo
Adjective: Japanese for magical girl.
Noun: In English, usually used to mean Japanese comic books.
Occasionally also used (even by the Japanese) to refer to animation. It is also the name of the anime company Manga Video, which is frequently shortened to just Manga in discussions.
Noun: Comic book artist.
This term, occasionally used by English-speaking fans, is taken directly from the Japanese word and has the same meaning.
Noun: Giant robots or, sometimes, mechanical stuff in general.
Among English-speaking anime fans, it is usually used a little more specifically to refer to the big robots that are so common in anime (Robotech and the like), but it can also be used to mean mechanical stuff in general (including cars, spaceships, and giant robots as well). Comes from the Japanese word for mechanical, "meka," which in turn came from the English word mechanical. It usually shows up in the credits of anime as Mecha Design, being the folks who design the look of the mechanical stuff in that anime.
Say: "Meh-ka" (like the city)
Noun: Original Animated Video. A sort of anime miniseries produced to be released directly to video.
The word is used both to refer to individual episodes and the series as a whole. Series are usually 4 to 8 parts, each one 30 to 45 minutes long. Frequently released in the US on volumes containing two or more OAVs. OVA is a more commonly used version, although both are correct and OAV is preferred at this site.
Noun: Japanese word used by English-speaking anime fans to refer to an avid anime fan.
Though otaku refers specifically to anime fans in English use, and is frequently used with pride, in Japanese it is somewhat more of an insult (having a lot of negative connotations) and more general. An anime otaku would be something like saying an obsessive anime fanboy in English, but you could also have a mecha otaku (person obsessed with mechanical stuff), a computer otaku (obsessed computer geek), or any other variety of otaku.
Noun: Original Net Animation. Anime created for release directly on the Internet.
ONA is currently used as a variant of OVA (see below) in situations where the animation is streamed or otherwise released directly on the Internet, instead of TV or a physical video format. ONA anime productions are currently, for the most part, either relatively short professional works or fan-created animated series, and even in these cases the term isn't particularly common. ONA anime may of course also end up on a physical video format at a later date.
Noun: Original Video Animation. A sort of anime miniseries produced to be released directly to video.
The word is used both to refer to individual episodes and the series as a whole. Series are usually 4 to 8 parts, each one 30 to 45 minutes long. Frequently released in the US on volumes containing two or more OVAs. Also called OAV, though OVA is more commonly used; both are correct, and OAV is the preferred term at this site.
Noun: The Japanese term for a samurai without a master.
Basically, Ronin wandered around looking for work as a hired sword, and have a sort of cool, lone gunslinger image--think Clint Eastwood. The most popular instance along those lines is probably the movie Yojimbo, but there are many others, including plenty in anime. People who did too poorly on the Japanese college entrance exams to get into a decent school and are studying in cram school so they might succeed next year are also called Ronin.
Noun: The manga version of fansub; scans of manga unofficially translated by amateur volunteers.
Scanlations are made by fans (or, more often, groups of fans) looking to bring previously-untranslated manga to English-speaking readers. Being relatively easy to produce (requiring nothing but a copy of the manga, a scanner, and the ability to translate), scanlations have existed for quite some time, but are fairly mainstream now--there are a number of large-scale sites serving scanlations of hundreds of titles for reading online. The quality of writing and translation varies widely, but tends to be relatively high.
As with fansubs, freely-distributed scanlations have both positive and negative impacts on the retail market for translated manga; how much the positive advertising offsets the loss in sales is impossible to say for sure.
Adjective: Short for Super Deformed; a style of anime art featuring characters with large heads and tiny bodies.
The SD art style is quite commonly used in comic interludes; it is the cute/silly art style built around characters with very large heads and tiny bodies. Often used along with anime or manga series as a kind of self-parody (for example, a few short comic strips in SD style at the end of a book that poke fun at the characters or artist).
Adjective: A style of anime artwork and story targeted at young adult men.
Generally targeted at college students and younger businessmen, seinen comics and anime differ from young-male targeted shounen in their more realistic characterization and more complex and grounded stories. They frequently feature graphic violent content and direct sexuality. Settings range from more developed science fiction and fantasy worlds to the real world.
The female-targeted equivalent is josei, which has a lot of overlap but tends to be less story-oriented, less violent, and more focused on characters and relationships.
Adjective: A style of anime artwork and story targeted at adolescent boys.
Characterized by youthful heroes, usually male, a focus on action, and generally broad emotional content. Stereotypically these shows will have an episodic construction and a central focus around some kind of competition or ongoing quest, with the main characters incrementally increasing their power and/or skill level to deal with increasing challenges. Frequently there is an obvious marketing tie-in, either toy or collectible card game. Unlike most anime on Japanese TV, which is limited to one or two seasons, shounen shows frequently continue for years. Much of the "Saturday morning" type of anime falls into this category: Pokemon and One Piece for younger target audiences, Bleach for somewhat older ones.
Contrast with the female-targeted equivalent genre shoujo, which has a few similarities but tends to be centered around romance and characters. Seinen is the mature version of the genre, targeted at young adult men.
Noun: The Japanese word for voice actor/actress.
Sometimes used by English speaking fans on the web in place of "actor" or "voice actor" when talking about Japanese voice actors.
Adjective: A style of anime artwork and story targeted at girls.
Characterized by plots that focus on emotion and relationships, and art that tends toward the florid, with lanky characters and rather effeminate (but always attractive) men. Mostly popular with teenage girls in Japan, shoujo-style work didn't see widespread popularity in other countries until the latter half of the '00s. The most common uses are shoujo manga, literally meaning girls' comics, and shoujo anime meaning girls' animation. Also occasionally mis-romanized as shojo, which is actually a different word in Japanese.
There is some stylistic overlap with "josei" (women's) manga and anime, though josei stories tend to be more reserved, sexually frank, and realistic in setting and characterization. The male-targeted equivalent to shoujo is shounen, which focuses more on action and physical conflict.
Almost all yaoi fare falls into the general shoujo category, though not all shoujo is yaoi.
Noun: A subtitled anime video.
Verb: The act of adding subtitles to a video.
Used to refer to a subtitled anime video. Were once much less common than dubbed anime, but preferred by many serious fans. Now, the proliferation of fan-subtitled anime and wider acceptance of subtitling in general has made these if anything more common than dubbed versions, with many less-mainstream anime having no English dub produced at all.
- super deformed
Adjective: A style of anime art featuring characters with large heads and tiny bodies, usually abbreviated SD; see above.
Noun: Video advertisement for a movie.
Though in the live action film industry trailer is usually restricted to ads for films, it is used to describe video ads for all forms of anime. Theatrical trailers are the ads shown in theaters before the film.
- TV series
Noun: You should know what this means.
Some additional detail as the term pertains to anime: Japanese TV series are done in chunks of weekly episodes, always aired in order without mid-season repeats. Series usually run either a quarter year (one season of 12 or 13 episodes) or two seasons (24 to 26 episodes) of sequential half-hour episodes. In some cases series will be extended past two seasons or a sequel series will be produced, though this is relatively rare outside of very popular children's shows. Note that Japanese TV series, since they aren't usually aired out of order, frequently have a more coherent ongoing plot than American series, particularly in the case of animation.
Noun: Video tapes--you know what they are. Abbreviation for Video Home System.
Functionally a dead format, though somewhat surprisingly it held on longer in Japan than the US. In the era before DVDs and internet distribution there would frequently be both subtitled and dubbed versions of anime available on VHS, with the subtitled version almost always harder to find and more expensive.
- voice actor
Noun: The actor who does the voice for an animated character.
Adjective: Any video image that is wider than the standard 4:3 ratio of a standard TV.
Though older TV shows were created in the standard 4:3 width-to-height ratio of a standard TV, theatrical movies and modern HD-targeted TV shows have a wider aspect ratio (more width for the same height, that is). 16:9 is the standard ratio for HD video (and thus widescreen TVs); theatrical movies are often even wider. Widescreen is used to describe any image that is wider than 4:3, which will include most theatrical movies (though not all--some anime movies were created in a 4:3 ratio) and most TV productions created for HDTV (meaning nearly all anime since the mid to late '00s). On a standard TV widescreen video is displayed letterboxed--with black bars at the top and bottom.
Adjective: Stories involving male-male relationships.
Commonly used by English-speaking fans (particularly of the type who write fanfics) to refer to stories involving male-male relationships (generally between young, pretty hero types). The female version, though much less used (serious lesbian relationships are uncommon in anime), is yuri.
Adjective: Stories involving female-female relationships.
The female version of yaoi is less commonly used, due to the relative lack of serious lesbian relationships in anime. The genre has recently seen some expansion, however, and there have been productions that play with gender roles dating back to the '70s.