Meaning of “Ara Ara” as used in Anime & Manga
Every Anime and Manga fan has heard or seen the phrase, Ara Ara, more times than they can count. Typically, whenever it is used, it means the same thing, but there are times when the phrase means something different.
Any real OTAKU would be familiar with this expression except you are not a real fan. Here are some Ara Ara meaning and ways the phrase can be used.
What does Ara Ara mean?
The phrase is interpreted to mean “My My”. However, depending on the context, it may mean something different. In anime, it is commonly used as a polite and gentle interjection to show mild surprise or amusement.
In character development, the type of character who uses this expression the most are relaxed, gentle and unassuming characters. Often, they are very soft-spoken, caring and affectionate, providing an accommodating environment for other characters. Most times, the characters are female due to the stereotypical assumption that women are mellow and softer hearted.
Therefore, it would be absurd to hear a warrior-like character make conversation using “Ara Ara” except it he or she is making a sarcastic comment to another character. In Essence, you would see, such if a young character fell and scraped their knees. Another great example will be when it is a family get-together with all the aunties paying extra attention.
If ever saw Aria the anime or read the manga, the character Alicia Florence was very relaxed and mellowed the perfect motherly figure. However, this expression became a catchphrase because she used it in a lot of her conversations.
The clumsy character Mutsumi Otohime in the Anime “Love Hina” often used the expression, and here it means “Oh me Oh my”. Same as Kurumi Tokisake in the Japanese light novel ‘Date a live’. This is why people would think that it is primarily feminine expression.
Other Ara Ara Meanings
The Japanese language is very emotionally expressive, which makes it difficult to interpret many words with a direct literal meaning. So, depending on how it is used, you have to interpret the words. Sometimes it is used as an exclamation meaning ‘Oh Dear’ or ‘Well Well’.
In another context, Ara may mean ‘Oh or Wow’. For example, a character may say “Ara, Pika” which can be interpreted as “Oh there you are Pika” or “Oh hi there Pika” or “Oh look its Pika.” Saying it as Ara Ara is for creating emphasis so it can be interpreted as “Oh, Oh” or “Wow, Wow”.
Sometimes it is used to bring a dramatic effect to the conversation. So, when you interpret the expression in English in such context, it can mean “Whaaaaatttt???” or “What the Fuck? (WTF)”. The expression brings a goofy and overtly dramatic effect to that conversation depending on the tone on the conversation.
The expression as it relates to Sex
Some people believe that Ara Ara is a phrase best used in a sexual context. Although it translates to ‘Oh dear’ or ‘my my’, it is also used as a flirty expression by female characters. From experience, the Female who is usually older than the male character uses it to express their sexual intentions.
No one can say exactly where this Japanese word originated; however, it has appeared in several anime and manga both in pornographic and non-pornographic types. Sometimes, they use if to show concern in what you would consider ‘a pervy manner’.
The most common example of when this phrase is used in a sexual context is artist Cuvie’s Mother Son Love, shotacon Manga. Although it was humorous than anything else, with time, it became more associated with Hentai, especially the shotacon genre.
There have been several artworks by artistes having this phrase as part of its titles. For example, Kemuri Haku revealed a very sexually suggestive artwork on the 28th of April on social media. The Japanese hentai artist titled the work “Ara Ara on a Train. On the 20th of July that same year, he posted another one which he titled Ara Ara on a Beach. His work became famous in its use for memes that same year.
One fact you must understand is a lot of Japanese expressions have multiple meanings depending on how it is used. Most interpretations you see when watching anime or reading manga and not the exact translation or connotation of those words
In anime, the subtitled meaning is the translators best attempt to give sense to those expressions based on usage. Therefore, when you are watching, keep your mind open to new ways, phrases and expressions can be used.
Now you know what Ara Ara means and the different contexts in which it can be used. So, if you ever want to communicate with fellow anime fans in language mere mortals can’t understand, you have a new addition to your vocabulary.