Connect with us

The Tokusatsu Network

“Tokusatsu” Added To Oxford English Dictionary


“Tokusatsu” Added To Oxford English Dictionary

The Oxford English Dictionary now recognizes “tokusatsu” and other Japanese terms as official loan words in the English language.

For decades, “tokusatsu” has been used in English to refer to Japanese-style live action special effects productions. These productions emphasize practical special effects over computer-generated visual effects, and the word is most commonly associated with superhero and kaiju productions from Power Rangers and Ultraman to Godzilla and Girls x Heroine. As of its March 2024 update, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has officially recognized “tokusatsu” as an English word borrowed from Japanese.

Tokusatsu, noun: “A genre of Japanese film or television entertainment characterized by the use of practical special effects, usually featuring giant monsters, transforming robots, and masked and costumed superheroes.”

Loan words are words originating in another language that are largely unchanged in pronunciation but are represented using the borrower’s native alphabet. A loan word’s definition is distinct and separate from its definition in the original language. The Japanese language uses many English loan words such as the “Rider” in Kamen Rider. In this case, the original Japanese word refers to any special effects production while the English word only refers to Japanese style special effects productions.

Danica Salazar, Executive Editor at OED World Englishes, expands on the word’s origins in her article:

“[Tokusatsu] is short for tokushu-satsuei, which literally means ‘special photography, special (visual) effects’, a combination of tokushu– ‘special’ and + satsuei ‘action of photographing’, or in film, ‘shot, take’. Director Eiji Tsuburaya pioneered practical special effects techniques in the 1940s and 1950s, which were used in such classic tokusatsu films as Godzilla (1954), as well as in several tokusatsu television series, beginning in the 1960s with Ultra Q and Ultraman.”

Salazar’s article details other words of Japanese origin in the March 2024 OED update including words related to Japanese arts and media such as “isekai” and “mangaka,” as well as foods like “takoyaki,” “hibachi,” and “katsu curry.” Overall, this update codifies a mix of language and culture between English-speaking countries and Japan in a way that accurately reflects the way many people globally interact with Japanese culture.

Sources: Oxford English Dictionary (1), (2)

A Game Design and Production graduate of the Class of 2019, Brody is a creative who loves to draw, write, design, and dive deep into entertainment. He enjoys reverse engineering and analyzing the deeper meaning of video games, comics, movies, and of course, tokusatsu.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Newest Posts

Subscribe to TokuNet

Enter your email address to subscribe to the Tokusatsu Network and receive notifications of new posts by email.

To Top