What Is The Meaning Of Senpai And Kohai In Anime?

You have probably heard of the terms san, chan, kun, sama, senpai, and kohai in the Japanese language. These are equivalent to Mr., Mrs., or Miss in the English language. Such terms are called honorifics. In different languages, various honorifics are used to show respect to someone or specify genders. Let us use the example of the Japanese language. In Japan, kun is referred to young males; chan is directed to young girls or female lovers; san is used to refer to anyone, especially when you aren’t sure what to call them; sama is a more traditional form of san and is used to refer to people who you respect a lot. Now the terms which are left for you to understand include senpai and kohai. Without delay, let us get into the detailed use of the two honorifics.

Meaning Of Senpai

Senpai is used to refer to someone senior to you. It is used for classmates who study higher than you or have more experience than you. At times, senpai is also called sempai. It shows the professional hierarchy between group members or coworkers. For example, in an office, you would refer to someone who has been in the workplace longer, as senpai. The word could have been used for a teacher. However, the term sensei already exists.

If you are familiar with the social media aspect of anime and manga, you would know the term is often sexualized. You are bound to wonder why that happens. Let me help you understand. In many shows or manga series, one falls in love with their senpai or senior or has a sexual relationship with them. This fact is the main reason why the term is sexualized this much. In some stories, the senpai has more sexual experience than their love interest, who is innocent. This situation is also prevalent in hentai plots.

Best Senpai Characters In Anime

After reading the meaning of senpai, I’m sure you want to check out some animes with such characters. Here is a list of the best senpais in anime.

Image: YouTube
  • Hatake Kakashi From Naruto Shippuden
  • Levi From Shingeki no Kyojin
  • Sadao Maou From Hataraku Maou-sama!
  • Haninozuka Mitsukuni From Ouran High School Host Club
  • Koshi Sugawara From Haikyu
  • Ayase Chihaya From Chihayafuru
  • Morita Shinobu From Hachimitsu to Clover
  • Kunimitsu Tezuka From Prince of Tennis
  • Albarn Spirit From Soul Eater
  • Tomoe Mami From Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica
  • Gojou Sataro From Jujutsu Kaisen
  • Daichi Sawamura From Haikyu

Meaning Of Kohai

Kohai is pretty much the opposite of senpai. As I have mentioned before, senpai means someone senior to you. Contrarily, kohai implies someone who is your junior. Kohai is also an honorific to refer to someone younger than you in a respectful manner. However, it doesn’t always have to be someone younger than you. For example, in an office, if you are new, you are bound to call others your senpai even if you both are of the same age. Hence, it makes you their kohai due to the difference in experience and not the age!

Although the word kohai is less popular than senpai, it still goes around a lot. In several anime or manga, we have observed that the female protagonist is two or three years younger than the male protagonist. That makes the female character a kohai. Such animes will include Nagatoro, Uzaki Chan Wants To Hangout, and Bunny Girl Senpai.

Best Kohai Characters In Anime

Here is a list of the best few kohai characters that you will come across. I suggest after reading this article, grab some popcorn and start binging these shows!

Image: YouTube
  • Nakano Asuza from K-ON!!
  • Takanashi Souta From Working!!
  • Kanda Sorata From Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo
  • Hinata Shouyo From Haikyuu!!
  • Nakajima Atsushi From Bungou Stray Dogs
  • Himeragi Yukina From Strike the Blood
  • Ariyoshi Juna From Earth Girl Arjuna
  • Izuku Midoriya From My Hero Academia
  • Nagatoro From Dont Toy With Me Miss Nagatoro
  • Uzaki From Uzaki Chan Wants To Hangout