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What does ‘Baka’ mean in Anime? Baka meaning, explained

Antata wa baka desu.

Photo via Blue Exorcist

There are two types of people in this world – those who watch their anime in English, and those who watch it in Japanese. But can we agree that despite the English dub being good, the English sub retains some of the Japanese contexts when translating the Japanese dub? Case-in-point, did you see the early English dub of Pokémon when Brock called onigiri “jelly-filled donuts”? SMH.

Sometimes when you watch anime through the Japanese dub, you might hear common words and phrases that slowly become more recognizable. But there is one that somewhat resonated with both casual and hardcore anime fans alike: the word ‘baka‘. Whether it’s a tsundere hitting the main protagonist just so they can deny their feelings, or the villain or rival insulting the hero, that word is commonly heard the more anime you watch.

What does ‘Baka’ mean in Anime? Baka meaning, explained

So, time for a quick Japanese lesson. What does ‘baka’ mean, especially since it’s slowly seeping through our vocabulary when talking with other anime fans? And for those who are concerned, no, it’s not vulgar.

‘Baka’ (ばか) is Japanese for ‘stupid’ or ‘idiot’. It’s used when someone does something foolish, in this case, when an anime character says something dumb or when the rival thinks that the hero is useless. An example can be seen in Fruits Basket when Yuki constantly describes Kyo as an idiot.

You may be thinking, when is a good time to use ‘baka’? One of the best times to use the word is if you’re trying to describe someone. So when you think your friend is an idiot or your teacher is doing something stupid, it’s during those situations where you can call someone ‘baka’. But I highly suggest you don’t, especially to those who don’t understand Japanese as it might lead to problems for you.

Other times, you can use it as a defense whenever you feel flustered in front of the person you like. In this context, you’re describing the situation or their assumptions of your feelings. It’s even more effective if you punch them or something nearby. An example can be seen in Sword Art Online when Asuna punches Kirito.

Hopefully, you learned something new and you can freely call your anime friends ‘baka’ whenever you wish, just as long as they don’t get mad or insulted. A safer time to use the word is if you’re using it as a playful insult to people you know. Don’t use it when insulting strangers or judging people you barely know.

About the author

Erielle Sudario

Erielle Sudario is a Digital Producer for We Got This Covered. Outside of work, she's either DM'ing a 'Dungeons and Dragons' campaign, playing video games, or building keyboards. Erielle holds a Bachelor of Communications Degree (specializing in film and journalism) from Western Sydney University and a Graduate Diploma in Radio and Podcasting from the Australian Film, Television, and Radio School.