And kanji with manga
Friday, March 2, 2018

wanko わんこ

In Japanese, a wanko わんこ is a colloquial way to refer to a dog, specially a puppy. The word is formed from an onomatopoeia for the sound dogs make, "woof," in Japanese: wan わん, and ko 子, which in this case is a suffix used to refer to something cute.

So wanko is how you say "doggy" in Japanese. But more literally wanko means "lil' woof" or something like that. Note, however, that despite the cutesy origins of the word, it may be used in a very enraged way depending on the situation.

The term wanko わんこ as used in the manga Gakkou-Gurashi がっこうぐらし.

Since it's a pet-like name, sometimes the chan honorific suffix is added to make stuff cuter: wanko-chan わんこちゃん. The term wanchan わんちゃん may also used to say "doggy."
The word wanchan ワンちゃん as used in the manga Deka Wanko デカワンコ.

The words above are usually written with hiragana, mostly because hiragana is cuter, but they can be written with katakana, too.
  • wanko ワンコ
  • wanko-chan ワンコちゃん
  • wanko-chan ワンコチャン
  • wanchan ワンちゃん
  • wanchan ワンチャン

The term nyanko にゃんこ is the cat counterpart of wanko.


Pochi ポチ

Sometimes, pochi ポチ, "spot," a common dog name in Japan, is used to refer to dogs the same way as wanko, although pochi is used more to refer to a specific dog, like you just gave the most common name you could think of for one of them.

Wanko Variation

Sometimes wanko is altered a bit to create a nickname for a pet. For example, in the manga and anime Hajime no Ippo はじめの一歩, there's a dog called wanpo ワンポ. It's the pet dog of the main character, Ippo イッポ.

Wanko People

Sometimes wanko is used as a nickname toward people. This comes from the figurative usage, as seen below.

One particular case is in the manga Deka Wanko デカワンコ, where the protagonist, whose name is Ichiko 一子, has the nickname wanko. This could be a wordplay on her name: ichi 一 means "one," and that English number katakanized would be wan ワン (as in One Piece, wan piisu ワンピース). So her nickname would be Wanko (one-ko) because her name is Ichiko, or something like that.

Figurative Usage

Sometimes, the term wanko is used figuratively, specially in order to call someone a "doggy." The term pochi may also be used this way, depending on the situation.

For example, one could be called a wanko because of one's loyalty to someone, or because they follow someone around like their "doggy," or something like that, implying they're someone's loyal pet.

It can also happen because they look cute as a tail-wagging puppy.

In BL / yaoi, the terms wanko seme and wanko uke are types of seme and uke that refer to characters that are devoted to their partners like a "doggy" would to their owner.

This also can happen in ecchi and parody manga and anime, in the usual do-S / do-M scenario where a sadist character decides to make someone their pet / "doggy" / slave. In this case it's usually over-the-top.

Then there's the drama genre, where occasionally you see a class of absolutely fucking psychopathic children bully a character by making them the class "doggy." Teachers are nowhere to be seen. Depending on the situation this ends in suicide, or worse.

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