And kanji with manga
Saturday, February 3, 2018

女体化, Nyotaika - Meaning in Japanese

In Japanese, nyotaika 女体化 is the term used for scenarios in manga, anime, and fiction, where a male character turns into a woman. That is, male-to-female gender-swapping.

It's not a technical term, it's just a term used by otaku talking about anime, etc. with gender-bending scenarios, most of which occur through magic or something like that. It's not used to talk about real-life transgender people.

The opposite, a female character turning male, is called nantaika 男体化 instead.

nyotaika 女体化 example from Ore, Twin tails ni Narimasu, where the main character is a male-to-female gender-bender

How The Word Works

Literally, the word is composed of the kanji for words "woman," onna 女, "body," karada 体, and the suffix for "transforming," ~ka ~化. So woman-body-fication, or something like that.

Note that the reading of the kanji for "woman" here is a rather uncommon on'yomi reading, nyo 女, and not the usual on'yomi reading, jo 女, which you'd find in words like "girl," shoujo 少女, and "female," josei 女性.

That's to say it's definitely not read as jotaika, given that the word nyotaika comes from the word nyotai 女体, meaning "woman's body."

女体 触りたい… モテたい… 直球だね, panel feature Mineta from manga Boku no Hero Academia 僕のヒーローアカデミア
Manga: Boku no Hero Academia 僕のヒーローアカデミア
  • nyotai
    女体 触りたい…
    [I] want to touch a woman's body.
  • motetai... モテたい…
    [I want to be popular.]
  • chokkyuu dane 直球だね
    Blunt (lit. "straight ball," as in baseball.), [aren't you?]

Finally, the suffix is also found in the verb bakeru 化ける, meaning "to transform into (something)," and it's related to monsters, bakemono 化け物, which are animals, plants or things that transform into people.

Incidence in Anime

Usually, an anime which features gender-bending, or "gender-switching," seitenkan 性転換, which is also the word used for real-life "sex-change," features a man turning into a woman, or a boy turning into a girl, so a nyotaika scenario.

This should go without saying, but crossdressing isn't the same thing as nyotaika, it's only nyotaika if the character physically changes sexes. It has nothing to do with his appearance. A trap character isn't nyotaika either. And a guy who plays a girl online, a nekama ネカマ, may or may not count as a gender-bender depending on the situation and whom you ask.

The method by which the characters turns female does not matter. It can be magic, science, or... or... I don't know, how else would that happen? It's just... magic or science isn't it? Anyway, it's all nyotaika.

For some reason, such gender-bender theme is a recurring trope in anime. There have been a number of works whose main point is literally the gender-bending factor.

For example, Ranma ½ is about a guy cursed to turn into a girl when splashed by cold water.

In particular, because normal girls turning into "magical girls," mahou shoujo 魔法少女, is an entire genre itself, some people have entertained the idea that if a boy underwent the same process he would end up becoming a magical girl, too, and not keep his sex as a "magical boy."

Outside of Japanese anime, I don't think it's ever necessary to mention that genderbending is disturbingly popular. I mean, it even has its own rule on the internet:
For every male character there is a female version. No Exceptions.
— Rule 63 of The Internet.

Although normally you would expect the above to apply only to fan-works and doujin, not to canon, but anyway.

Nantaika 男体化

The term nantaika 男体化 refers to gender-bending scenarios where a women turns into a man, girls into boys, female to male, you get it. It's the reverse situation of nyotaika 女体化.

Since nyotaika is literally woman-body-fication, it can only be used for situation where a guy turns into a girl. That's why the counterpart word nantaika exists, for the elusive man-body-fication scenarios.

It's worth noting that nantaika is a much rarer scenario in manga and anime by comparison.

nantaika 男体化 example from anime Mahou Shoujo Ore 魔法少女俺 showing a female-to-male gender-bender protagonist.

Other Ka

Besides the above, the following ka 化, "-fications," also exist:
  • joseika 女性化
    Female-fication. (nyotaika synonym)
  • danseika 男性化
    Male-fication. (nantaika synonym)
  • rorika ロリ化
    Turning into a loli. Loli-fication.
  • shotaka ショタ化
    Turning into a shota. Shota-fication.
  • shuuka 獣化
    kemonoka ケモノ化
    Turning into a beast or kemono. Beast-fication.
  • futanarika ふたなり化
    Turning into a futanari. Futanari-fication.
  • otokonokoka 男の娘化
    Turning into a trap. Otokonoko-fication.
    (that girl character? She was actually a trap all along!)
  • onnanokoka 雄んなの子化
    Turning into a reverse-trap. Onnanoko-fication.
    (that guy character? He was actually a reverse-trap all along!)
    (probably never happened but theoretically possible)
  • sekka 石化
    Turning into stone. Stone-fication. Petrification.
    (Wait, this has nothing to do with gender-bending! It's just is some ryona stuff!)
  • Piichi-hime-ka ピーチ姫化
    Turning into Princess Peach. (see: Bowsette and other princesses.)

Of course, this suffix ka 化 can also be used in stuff that has nothing to do with anime. For example, kyouka 強化, just means "strengthening," that is, turning "strong," tsuyoi 強い. Alright, that example totally has something to do with anime, but you get the idea.

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