We’ve talked a little bit about waifus in the past, those fictional, female objects of affection so beloved by the otaku crowd. Well, now it’s time to take a look at the other side of waifus.
You guessed it: husbandos!
First, our overview…
What is a husbando?
A husbando is to males what waifus are to females. A husbando is a male, animated character that you feel some attraction to.
Husbando in more detail
If you understand what a waifu is, congratulations, you already understand what a husbando is—just flip the genders.
If you don’t, then let’s explain.
A husbando is always going to be a male character, and they’re always going to be animated.
This term started off in the anime and manga community, but also wrapped in video games a little bit as well.
Nowadays, the term has broadened enough that you could use it to discuss drawn characters even in Western media.
If a male character makes your heart beat a little faster, or warm you up inside, then they just might be a husbando. The levels of devotion to these characters varies widely.
Some people (perhaps most) use the term simply as a cheeky way to refer to male characters that excite and titillate them. Others might decorate their rooms with the character and defend them vociferously online.
At the far end of the spectrum you’ll have people devoting themselves to these characters as if they were real.
Perhaps they’ll buy body pillows with the image of the character on them and take this pillow with them into public, even to restaurants for sit down meals.
By no means is this last type of otaku common, or even remotely indicative of a typical anime fan, but they do exist out there.
For the most part, you can use this word as a fun way to refer to male characters you really find attractive.
Are all husbandos the same?
Heavens no! Just like people find different reasons to be attracted to different people in the 3D (i.e “Real”) world, people are attracted to all different types of male characters.
Japanese media is full of very common character archetypes, and often people will be attracted to one or more of these specific archetypes.
There’s the bishounen husbando, who is young and beautiful. In English we might call him a “pretty boy.”
There’s the tsundere husbando whose outward expressions are hard and cold, but they always let a little warmth slip out, so you just know they’re a really good guy inside.
There’s fiercely loyal husbandos, dominating husbandos, rough’n’tumble husbandos.
And if you go onto forums to discuss this stuff you’ll see people defending their favorites with lots of passion.
Is husbando an actual Japanese word?
No, not really. Unlike waifu the word husbando doesn’t come from Japan.
In fact, it was created by English speakers to sound like a Japanified way to say “husband.” However, this doesn’t work.
First, Japanese already has its on English-inspired word for “husband.”
Second, that’s not how you would transliterate husband into Japanese. You’d write it as hazubando (ハズバンド).
Basically, the term “waifu” got really popular in the English speaking otaku community and they needed a male version of it and manufactured husbando out of thin air.
What do Japanese people actually say for husband?
There are lots of ways that wives can refer to their husband. There’s otto (夫), go-shujin (ご主人), and danna (旦那). These aren’t super common in everyday life.
Often women will refer to their husband simply by name, plus “san” after it, for respect. They may also refer to their husband using the pronouns for “you,” such as anata (あなた), kimi (君), or omae (お前).
Alternatively, if their husband has a specific title, such as “doctor” or “teacher,” they might use that. Very commonly women call their husband otou-san (お父さん), “father,” referring to the man’s position in the family.
However, times are a-changing. Nowadays wives often refer to their husbands by name, no honorific san needed (this shift started in the 70s and has become ever more prominent).
Even more recently, the English-Japanese word for husband that we discussed above, hazubando, has come into use, albeit transformed into the shorter hazu.
This type of sorta English, sorta Japanese word is very interesting in terms of loanwords.
By bringing in an English word they also bring in some of the English cultural connotations behind that word.
Whereas traditional Japanese marriages were built on hierarchy (and, often enough, convenience or arrangement), modern marriages are more built on equality, friendship, and love.
Marriages in predominately English-speaking countries are known for having more love-based marriages, so when a wife refers to her husband as hazu she’s making it clear that she sees him as a beloved equal.
Final thoughts on husbandos
In the English-speaking otaku community, the word “husbando” is fine and has its place. However, in actual Japanese the word not only doesn’t exist, it doesn’t make sense right down to the very phonetics.
Waifu, however, is an actual Japanese word that mirrors hazu in usage today. So, if you are speaking in Japanese and want the proper male equivalent of waifu, then hazu, or hazubando, is your go to word.
“I’ve lived in Japan on-and-off for the last five years, travelling to (almost) every corner of the Land of the Rising sun. I’ve deepened my love of the language with big hauls from Sapporo book stores, by chatting in Shinjuku coffee shops, drinking in Osaka “snack bars,” exploring distant Okinawan islands, and hitching rides with monks in Aomori. Japanese is a wide and deep language, and I’m always eager to dive in deeper.”