And kanji with manga
Sunday, February 18, 2018

nekama ネカマ (Boy with Female Online Avatar)

In Japanese, nekama ネカマ is a guy who plays as a girl online in a MMORPG, or has an online female avatar or identity. It's an abbreviation of netto okama ネットオカマ, literally "internet okama." The opposite is called a nenabe ネナベ, from onabe オナベ.

Kirigaya Kazuto 桐ヶ谷和人, and trap Kirito キリト, a.k.a. Kiriko キリ子.
Left: Kirigaya Kazuto 桐ヶ谷和人
Right: "Trap Kirito キリト", a.k.a. Kiriko キリ子
Anime: Sword Art Online II, ソードアート・オンラインII (Season 2) (Episode 8, Collage)

Definition

In anime, there are various sorts of nekama scenarios that brings with them various questions.

The obvious situation is that you have a male character, he plays a game, and in the game he has a female avatar. Or, perhaps, he has an online avatar in his online persona, like he's a virtual youtube with a female idol for avatar, or something like that.

  • In Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko Janai to Omotta? ネトゲの嫁は女の子じゃないと思った?, the protagonist falls in love with a girl in a game that turns out to be an older man in real life.

Since nekama is an internet okama, and okama can be used pejoratively toward unmanly men, it's possible for a male avatar that looks like a girl to be considered a nekama, too, i.e. a "trap" avatar, or otokonoko 男の娘 in Japanese.

  • In Sword Art Online: Gun Gale Online, Kirito キリト has an avatar that looks like a girl, but is actually male.

In some cases, a character can end up with an opposite-gender avatar against his will, e.g. by mistake, or by some sort of bug.

If the character actually chooses to be a girl online, then he'll act the female persona, using female language, for example.

Using an opposite-gender avatar in virtual life parallels wearing opposite-gender clothes in real life, so typical crossdressing tropes may apply, e.g. another character falling in love with the girl version of a character, there being a canonical or fan-made name for the girl version, and so on..

  • Kirito's feminine avatar was named Kiriko キリ子 by fans. The ko is a common suffix in female names. He's also known as "trap Kirito," otokonoko Kirito 男の娘キリト.(dic.nicovideo.jp, dic.pixiv.net)

Some series are about how a character dies and reincarnates in "another world," isekai 異世界, and the sort. Sometimes, this "another world" is a virtual world, a game world, and he might not have died, but simply gotten summoned there.

If the character has a female avatar in this case, that counts as nyotaika 女体化, "female-body-fication," i.e. it counts as a sex-change gender-bending scenario.

What if a character has a male avatar, but the avatar gets nyotaika'd in-game? Does that count as nekama?

In anime, okama characters are stereotypical, flamboyant gay men, and many of them don't actually pass as female. What if someone's online avatar was like that, using onee-kotoba オネエ言葉, for example? Does that count as nekama, or is it only nekama if they're perceived as female?

References

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