Anime Viewers’ Kanji of the Year Picks Include ‘Little Sister,’ ‘Kemono’
Every year, the Japanese Kanji Proficiency Society holds a vote to select one kanji to represent a year’s closing, a sort of singular summary of the major events. It’s similar to the buzzword contests that acknowledge social and national trends.
This year’s selected kanji is a bit ominous. 北, read as kita, means “north” and is a direct reference to the recent missile scares from North Korea, torrential downpours in Kyushu, and the potato harvest shortage in Hokkaido. Similarly, “J-Alert,” Japan’s satellite warning system that was recently utilized after North Korea launched missiles near Japan, made the Top Buzzwords list, as did “sen-jō kōsuitai” a type of cloud associated with heavy rain.
Much like how there was a general buzzword list and AbemaTV‘s anime-centric version, the website Anime! Anime! asked its readers to elect a kanji to describe 2017’s otaku scene. Approximately 200 filled out a questionnaire to select a symbol between December 8-11. Some of the results mirrored the buzzword list pretty closely.
The top choice was “獣” read as kemono, meaning “beast” and is an obvious reference to the underground hit Kemono Friends and the subsequent controversy after its director, TATSUKI, was removed from the show’s announced sequel. Kemono Friends appeared more than once between both of the buzzword lists. This kanji received over 17% of the overall vote.
The second choice was “妹” read as imōto, meaning “little sister.” Little sister anime has begun making a comeback thanks in part to Eromanga Sensei, Him?to! Umaru-chan R, and A Sister’s All You Need. It received 5% of the vote.
The third choice was “銀” read as gin, meaning “silver.” In this case, the kanji is a direct reference to Gintama and its protagonist Gintoki. The comedy manga and anime series got the live-action treatment this year and a new anime season.
The rest of the nominees are:
- “友”, tomo, “friend” (tied #3 and an alternate choice to reference Kemono Friends)
- “松”, matsu, “-matsu” (the ending kanji used in the character names of Mr. Osomatsu)
- “兎”, usagi, “rabbit” (the terrifying necromantist from J?ni Taisen OR Goch?mon wa Usagi Desu ka?? Dear My Sister)
- “輝,” kagaya, “to shine” (from the title of Love Live! Sunshine!!‘s first episode “Kagayakitai!!”)
- “刀,” katana, “sword” (used in the title for Katsugeki! T?ken Ranbu)
- “豊,” toyo, “abundant” (from the phrase ‘This year’s anime was an abundant harvest throughout.’)
- “再,” sai, “re-” or “again” (denoting Re:CREATORS)
As for the official chosen kanji, “kita” was a voting option on Anime! Anime’s poll too, but none of the participants selected it. It’s almost like when it comes to anime viewers, the perspective of the world is a little bit different.