Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Types of Seme & Uke

Here's a list of the types of seme and uke, which were originally part of another post, but the list is so disturbingly long it just makes more sense to put it in its own post.

Seme vs. Zeme
Non-BL labels

sou uke / sou seme
heibon uke / sasoi uke / osoi uke
do-S, do-M / kichiku seme / kenage uke
hetare seme / heppoko seme

kuuru seme, kuuru uke
oyaji uke, oyaji seme

oresama seme, oresama uke
wanko uke, wanko seme

koakuma uke / bitch uke
hime uke / joousama uke / tsukushi seme

otokomae uke / otome uke / macho uke
josou seme / mujaki seme / kawaii seme

nonke seme / yoko seme

toshiue uke, toshishita seme
toshiue seme, toshishita uke


riba, kotei
seme x seme, uke x uke
homo yuri


Because the fandom is what it is, there are a number of types of seme characters and types of uke characters that distinguish in the most random ways one character from another. The terms below are mostly used to classify Japanese fanfics, or SS, "short stories."

Do note that the words below are pretty much just an adjective before a noun, just like the phrase "yellow car" in English. There's nothing special about them. (I got most of them from the Pixiv dictionary, pages 攻め and 受け, by the way)

Seme vs. Zeme

A note on Japanese language: sometimes when a word is used as suffix, the pronunciation of said suffix changes in way that's called rendaku 連濁. This only happens in compound words.

In the case of the word seme, it would turn into zeme. For example, kotoba-zeme 言葉攻め means "verbal abuse," literally "attack of words." This only happens in compound words. So kawaii-zeme would be wrong, since it's an adjective and a noun, separate words: kawaii seme 可愛い攻め.

In some dictionaries I found 総攻め written as sou-zeme, although referring to "total attack" not to a "total top." The Pixiv dictionary says the reading is sou seme, and I'm gonna trust Pixiv on this one. Therefore I'm assuming every type of seme is X-seme, not X-zeme.

Non-BL labels

Both seme and uke are anime characters so they can get labelled with any random fandom terms such as tsundere, kuudere, yandere, ikemen, bishuonen, otaku, hikikomori, etc. Since those were already explained in other articles they won't be explained here.

sou uke 総受け

From the prefix sou 総, meaning "total."

A sou uke is a character who is a "total uke." That is, a character that is always uke. No matter which other character he is shipped with, he's never seme.

Sou-uke, "Total Bottom," from the BL class of the anime Outbreak Company アウトブレイク・カンパニー

Alternatively, a sou uke is a character that makes all other characters become seme for him and go after him.

sou seme 総攻め

Counterpart of sou uke.

A sou seme is a "total top." A character who is a seme no matter which other character he is shipped with. Or, alternatively, a character who makes all characters become uke for him.

heibon uke 平凡受け

The word heibon 平凡 means "common," or "ordinary."

A heibon uke is an uke with nothing special about him.

sasoi uke 誘い受け

From the verb sasou 誘う, "to invite" or "to tempt."

A sasoi uke is a "seducing uke." An uke who, as the popular phrase goes, "is asking for it." Practically, but not always literally. He can be just doing things like saying "today is hot isn't it," and taking off their shirt, etc.

This term specially denotes a scenario where the uke takes initiative, since the general idea is that it's the seme takes active role in conquest and thus must make the first step. Something like a sasoi uke is needed in rare scenarios where the seme isn't assertive enough.

osoi uke 襲い受け

From the verb osou 襲う, "to assault." Not to be confused with the adjective osoi 遅い, which means "slow."

An osoi uke is an uke who jumps over (assaults) the seme. This is like a sasoi uke on steroids. Maybe the seme is too dense to get a hint so a more physical approach is required.

Anyway, an osoi uke can be anything from simply touching, kissing, flirting, to groping or even sexually assaulting (yes, I mean raping, although not legally "raping" since he's an uke and ukes can't rape blahblahblah).

do-S ドS, do-M ドM

The terms do-S and do-M mean someone is a "sadist" and "masochist" respectively (from S&M).

A do-S seme ドS攻め is a seme who's a sadist. A do-M uke ドM受け would be an uke who's a masochist.

Normally in Japanese just S or M would suffice to seriously call someone "sadist" or "masochist." The do prefix here is used to make it "very" or "super," as in "super sadist" or "super masochist." It's exaggerated, and often used jokingly or as criticism toward someone.

For example, a boss who gives a high workload to his employees would be called as do-S, a "sadist," due to his mercilessness, and not really because of anything to do with sex. Due to this, do-S is a rather common slang, and do-M isn't used as much.

That is to say that while do-S seme is a common term, do-M uke is not.

Also, mazo uke マゾ受け is another way of saying "masochist uke." It works for mazo seme too.

kichiku seme 鬼畜攻め

From kichiku 鬼畜, meaning "brute."

A kichiku seme is a seme who is also a brutal sadist (toward the uke, likely). Probably called this for having no pity in a way or another or making excessive demands. In other words, a kichiku seme is an extremely do-S seme.

kenage uke 健気受け

From kenage 健気, meaning "brave" or "industrious."

A kenage uke is an uke who unconditionally loves the seme no matter what terrible things are done to him.

hetare seme ヘタレ攻め

From the verb hetaru へたる, which means "to fall exhausted, "comes the word hetare ヘタレ, which in this case is used as a personality.

A person who is hetare ヘタレ is someone weak-willed, easily scared. That has a loser attitude.

A hetare seme is, pretty much, the weakest possible seme that nobody really knows how the hell did he even become a seme to begin with. Must have been some sort of BL miracle after a fujoshi wished upon a star.

Anyway, a hetare seme is shy of gay romance. Doesn't think he's worth his partner. And will be extremely cautious to the point of being passive. So for a hetare seme to even exist at all, he needs to be paired with a non-orthodox uke that is more romantically assertive than the average uke (like a sasoi uke or osoi uke) otherwise it'll be a timidness contest.

wanko uke わんこ受け and wanko seme わんこ攻め

From the word wanko わんこ, which is a childish word meaning "puppy," which combines "woof," wan わん with "child," ko 子, In this case it refers to a wanko personality, not to an actual puppy.

Basically, a wanko is someone who's loyal and faithful to someone else, just like a dog.

So a wanko seme is someone devoted to their uke, and a wanko uke is devoted to their seme.

koakuma uke 小悪魔受け

From ko-akuma 小悪魔, a "small" akuma 悪魔, "demon." In this case referring to the ko-akuma personality, that is, he's not physically a demon.

It's called "small demon" or "small devil" because it's not like they'll manipulate people into some sort of satanic ritualistic sacrifice, they're simply having fun at others' expense

A koakuma character (uke or not), will often get others to do something he wants by saying something they want to hear, or by blackmailing them with something rather inconsequential ("I'll tell you ate that pudding that wasn't yours!").

They're often used for comedic effect, and might get drawn with bat wings, devil tail, and snickering, when they succeed in manipulating others.

koakuma 小悪魔 Rokujou Miharu 六条 壬晴 from anime Nabari no Ou 隠の王.

(someone on the internet did call Miharu from Nabari no Ou a koakuma uke 小悪魔受け, so he's probably a good example of one. (隠の王 第1話「目醒めるもの」 -

So a koakuma uke is an uke who's slightly sadistic (but not a do-S uke) and will toy with his seme by saying things he wants to hear, etc.

bitch uke ビッチ受け

From bicchi ビッチ, loaned from English "bitch." In Japan, this word has a meaning closer to "slut," someone who'll date anyone, and not anything like to a stuck-up bitch.

A bitch uke is an uke who thinks of sex all the time and probably will do it with anyone and everyone.

hime uke 姫受け

From hime 姫, meaning "princess."

A hime uke is an uke that's treated like a princess. That is, cherished by one seme, or even by multiple.

joousama uke 女王様受け

From joou-sama 女王様, meaning "queen."

This is totally different from hime uke. A joousama uke is not an uke that's treated like a "queen," it's an uke who acts like a "queen." That is, with an air of superiority toward the seme and maybe toward everyone else, and full of pride too.

tsukushi seme 尽くし攻め

From verb tsukusu 尽くす, which means "to do until exhausted" or "to devote."

A tsukushi seme is one wholeheartedly devoted to the uke, and is willing to do anything and everything for him. This kind of seme is a match for the joou-sama uke, since no other seme would be stupid devoted enough to tolerate the whims of the joou-sama and stick around.

otokomae uke 男前受け

From otoko 男, "man," and mae 前, "front," or otoko-mae 男前, "man front, " meaning someone who acts like a man.

An otoko-mae uke is an uke who acts like a man. Just being a man doesn't cut it, he has to act like one. The point of this word is that it's contradictory to the expectation in yaoi that the uke, who's bottom, must consequently act less like a man, more emotionally and feminine, or at most neutral.

An otoko-mae uke is an uke thats make one think he's a seme character from his personality and behavior.

otome uke 乙女受け

From otome 乙女, meaning "maiden."

An otome uke is an uke who looks and acts like a "maiden." That is, the very opposite of the above.

macho uke マッチョ受け

From maccho マッチョ, which comes from "macho."

A maccho uke, or macho uke, is an uke who, well, looks muy macho. That is, he has a lot of muscles and is tall and looks like he doesn't belong to a fujoshi-centered genre.

A maccho uke is different from otoko-mae uke, because he looks manly, but doesn't necessarily acts manly.

nonke seme ノンケ攻め

From the word nonke ノンケ, a Japanese LGBT slang for "straight," that is, "heterosexual."

A nonke seme is a seme who is straight. How? Well, fuck, I have no idea. I don't think I've ever heard someone say "I'm a guy, I have a boyfriend, but I'm straight." Though I did see a character say "I'm very straight, but I'm exclusively gay for you" in Archer.

The normal scenario is that a nonke seme starts a straight guy who has had his share of girlfriends and maybe wives through his life, but upon finding his ideal uke he changes teams. The power of uke compels heterosexuality!

yoko seme 横攻め

From yoko 横, meaning "horizontal." More specifically, yoko-renbo 横恋慕, literally "horizontal love affair," that is, cheating someone or ending up in a love triangle.

A yoko seme is either a nonke seme who has a girlfriend, or a gay seme who already has an uke, or even a more contrived example would be a yoko seme who is an uke in his current relationship. It means the story is about an "sideways" affair.

mujaki seme 無邪気攻め

From mujaki 無邪気, meaning "innocent." Which combines mu 無, "nothingness," with jaki 邪気, "maliciousness." In other words, "no malice."

A mujaki seme is a seme who, as the word literally says, has no malice. Unlike those other malicious semes this one is just a pure, innocent guy, who ends up on top of another guy somehow.

A mujaki zeme is the diagonal opposite of ko-akuma uke.

oyaji uke オヤジ受け, oyaji seme オヤジ攻め

From the word oyaji オヤジ, meaning "old man," usually a colloquialism for "father," but in this case, I hope, it just means a random old man.

So... an oyaji uke or seme is a character who... is an oyaji.

He's middle-aged. A middle-aged uke.

(I can't take this seriously after watching Mahoujin Guru Guru...)

oresama seme 俺様攻め, oresama uke 俺様受け

From the word ore, meaning "I" or "me," first person pronoun, and the honorific sama, which to give some added respect toward someone.

Basically, ore-sama 俺様 is a pompous way of referring to oneself that you'll only ever see in anime, because it sounds pretty stupid and arrogant and it sounds sound like you're looking down at everyone around you.

So an oresama seme or oresama uke is a character who thinks he's the greatest in the world. The oresama uke is probably a level down to the joousama uke, because that one isn't just full of himself but is also demanding.

josou seme 女装攻め

From josou 女装, literally "woman's clothing," but here it means "crossdressing" instead.

A josou seme is a seme who crossdresses. This is probably a word because, since it's the uke takes the female role, if anyone would crossdresss you'd expect it to be the uke, not the seme.

kawaii seme かわいい攻め

From the word kawaii 可愛い, meaning "cute."

So a kawaii seme is a cute seme. Again, this is probably because this appearance is expected from uke, not seme. And seme is probably expected to look cool or something, not cute. (is this pokémon?)

heppoko seme へっぽこ攻

From heppoko へっぽこ, meaning someone that's inferior in skill to others, or something that's inferior in quality to others. In other words, "useless."

A heppoko seme is a seme without fame, fortune, or social status, but one that has love. And hopes he can protect the uke with just his love and devotion.

kuuru seme クール攻め, kuuru uke クール受け

From the word kuuru クール, loaned from English "cool," but meaning something along the lines of looking cool, calm, and composed, and has an air of authority around him. The term kuudere クーデレ also comes from this.

So a kuuru uke or a kuuru seme is a character who looks like that.

toshiue 年上, toshishita 年下

The words toshi-ue 年上 and toshi-shita 年下, literally "year above" and "year below," written with the directions up and down, are used to mean someone who is "older" and "younger" respectively. When combined with uke and seme it just specifies which is the older one in the ship.
  • toshi-ue uke 年上受け, toshi-shita seme 年下攻め
    Older uke, younger seme.
  • toshi-shita uke 年下受け, toshi-ue seme 年上攻め
    Younger uke, older seme.

gekokujou 下克上

The word gekokujou 下剋上 is literally "down wins up," meaning a kind of "overthrow." It refers to when someone of lower status ends up overpowering someone of higher status. Historically, this term has to do with assassinations, but of course this isn't the case in yaoi.

A gekokujou couple is on where the seme has a lower status than the uke. This can happen for a number of reasons. The uke can be the boss of a company and the seme his employee, or the uke can be a prince or king and the seme his servant, or, most likely, it's a senpai 先輩 × kouhai 後輩 couple, with a senpai-uke and a kouhai-seme.

senpai wa sasoi uke! (senpai is sasoi uke!) gekokujou!! gekokujou!! 先輩はさそい受け!!下克上!!下克上!! from manga Tonari no Yaoi-Chan となりの801ちゃん

Note that, for some western fans, gekokujou refers to a seme who doesn't look like a seme initially but becomes a more seme-like seme later. This is a misconception coming from taking the effect of gekokujou for the cause. Because the seme has lower rank in society, he has less power than the uke at the start of the story, but in bed he'd take lead, meaning he'd have more power when the story reached that part. This makes it look like the character went from uke-like to a seme, but that's just conflating societal roles with sexual roles.

riba リバ & kotei 固定

The word riba リバ, which comes from ribaashiburu リバーシブル, in English, "reversible," is used to indicate that a couple of characters is, well, reversible. This means that who is seme and who is uke can change or doesn't matter.

In contrast, kotei 固定, "fixed," indicates seme and uke is not be reversible.

Seme x Seme, Uke x Uke

Most BL couples are seme x uke, but some of them go beyond and are made of two characters that lean to the seme or uke archetypes.

Note that even if it's a seme x seme ship or an uke x uke ship, one of them ends up having to be seme, "top," and the other uke, "bottom," in case of sex. They are just called that because they look like they'd both be "top" or "bottom." In practice that's not possible. It only works because both (or one) of them becomes riba and switches to the other side.

homo yuri ホモ百合

In Japanese, a uke x uke couple is also called homo yuri ホモ百合 or BL yuri BL百合. This is probably because yuri 百合 is a genre of lesbian fiction, and a couple of uke characters is, supposedly, a couple of two characters who should have female gender roles in a gay ship.

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