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Japanese word for one's aunt or, by extension, any middle-aged woman. Can also have Honorifics other than -san, though -san is by far the most common. When a character in her late 20s or early 30s is called oba-san, she is likely to become flustered or smack the person who referred to her as such, depending on temperament. (Cf. Ma'am Shock.) She may ask to be called by her name instead, or to be called onee-san (meaning older sister, or a woman who is older than oneself but younger than middle age). The male version is oji-san ("uncle"), whilst oyaji is used for significantly older males and is considered somewhat rude (like calling a middle-aged man "gramps").

Occasionally a little kid will call a teenage girl oba-san, much to the girl's consternation.

Minor side note: The term is also used in Taiwan for middle-aged and older women, though not for relatives. May or may not have anything to do with the Japanese occupation of the island.

Not to be confused with "Obaa-san", which can mean "grandmother" or "old woman."

Contrast Honorary Uncle, which generally indicates a closer relationship.

Examples of Oba-san include:


Anime and Manga

  • In Love Hina, Urashima Keitaro calls his cousin Haruka "oba-san" and gets smacked each time he does so, with an admonition to call her "Haruka-san". (Information external to the program indicates that Haruka was formally adopted by Hina Obaachan, and thus in a legal sense is technically Keitaro's aunt, though she is biologically his cousin.)
    • Actually, the smacking occurs in the anime; In the manga, Haruka accepts and explains this to the other ladies, who eventually come to call her 'Auntie' as well.
  • Meemu from UFO Princess Valkyrie is called oba-san by Tokino Rika a few times, and each time says that it's fine for Rika to call her onee-san.
  • In Magic Knight Rayearth, Umi refers to Alcyone as an Oba-san, which infuriates the sorceress.
  • In Angelic Layer, Shoko objects when Misaki calls her "auntie", requesting that her niece call her "Miss Shoko." She seems to take on the role of a Cool Big Sis.
  • The Fan Nickname of Karen from Yes! Pretty Cure 5 is "Babaa-sama", a contraction of "oba-obaa-sama", obaa-sama meaning grandmother.
  • Monster did it with Eva, nee-san request and all. (Dieter did switch to nee-san... for all of five seconds.) Fridge Logic kicks in when you remember the characters are German, but a good translation can get around this.
    • The best English translation would make her look excessively vain for taking offense at being called 'Ma'am', or 'Frau' rather than 'Fraulein'.
      • The best English (or German) translation might be if she asked him to call her Eva instead of Ms. (Frau) Heinemann. It changes the context a bit, but it is close enough. Fraeulein would be old fashioned beyond belief.
    • Even better, Dieter's voice actor? Naruto. Scroll down and see.
  • In Tenchi Muyo! and Tenchi Muyo! GXP, Airi Masaki's Berserk Button is pressed whenever someone calls her "grandmother"/"obaa-san" -- even though she is literally Tenchi's grandmother (and Yosho's wife).
    • Even Tenchi himself, as much as Airi adores him, can't call her by this.
    • In the OVA, Sasami asks Tenchi who the "oba-san" with him is. Ryoko...gently corrects her.
  • In AIR, Misuzu calls her mother Haruko this after losing her memory. The reaction is negative, but not violent, since Haruko really is Misuzu's aunt who adopted after her real mother died. She really wants to be called 'mother' though, which is the basic point of the last few episodes.
  • In the original Japanese version of Zoids New Century Zero, Wild Eagle, cocky alter-ego of mild-mannered teenager Jamie Hemeros, addresses his rival Pierce as oba-san, much to her annoyance. In the English dub he calls her "little lady," which, while still patronizing, carries a somewhat different connotation.
  • In a flashback in Neon Genesis Evangelion, Rei's first clone calls Naoko Akagi, the Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter's mother, "ba-san", which is translated by ADV as "hag". This, among other other things, prompted Naoko to brutally murder Rei.
  • In one of the tracks on a Gintama drama CD, snack shop owner Otose throws Katsura into the back of a train hard when he unknowingly addresses her as oba-san. And then she intimidates him into calling himself 'wig-man'. Yeah.
  • In a Bleach filler episode, Rangiku saves a somewhat rude young boy named Shuuta from an arrancar, and he offends her by referring to her as "baa-san," and then calls her "baa-baa", prompting her to squeeze his face against her breasts. After Shuuta calls her "baa-san" again later on, she demands to be addressed as "Rangiku-san," under threat of repeating the previous punishment, and her request is consistently honored.
  • In One Piece, Dr. Kureha, the oldest living female character, hates being called this, as she states that she is "only 139 years old". Kokoro is often referred to as "Kokoro-baa-san", although some characters like Nami and Robin call her "Kokoro-san".
  • Naruto commonly calls Tsunade "Tsunade-no-baa-chan", while most of the Konoha ninja call her "Tsunade-sama" ("a very respectful address, since she's the village leader and chief-in-command."), anyone calling her oba-san except Naruto will receive a royal asskicking from her. Thx to youtube for hosting a clip of that. Chiyo is generally called "Chiyo-baa-sama.".
    • The dub has him call Tsunade and Chiyo "Grandma Tsunade" and "Granny", respectively, which comes off a little more rude than the original.
    • For added fun, scroll up to the entry for Monster. Naruto and Dieter are the same voice.
  • In Yu Yu Hakusho Yusuke and Kuwabara often call Genkai "Baa-san".
  • In the first episode of Bubblegum Crisis, a little girl calls Priss some variation on Oba-san. Priss's face contorts into something like a pretzel. Quite understandable since she's in her early twenties.
  • Tsugumi calls Hone-Onna this when they first meet in Hell Girl, and she takes great umbrage. Kikuri does the same thing specifically to annoy her. (She also calls Wanyuudou "baldy".)
  • Fullmetal Alchemist has the Elrics call Izumi 'obaa-san' when seeking a teacher. She quickly smacks them with a chair (or in the manga, a bed), prompting them to hastily say 'Oneesan' instead. Later, of course, she agrees to teach them and they call her 'sensei.'
  • In Keroro Gunsou, Pururu's "trauma switch" is to be called oba-san.
  • Cut it out with the "oji-san", Guy Shishioh is only 20 years old!
  • Bunny Drop plays with this at the end of the first chapter: her first morning with Daikichi, six-year-old Rin hasn't learned his name and wakes him by calling him "oji-san", which flusters him not only because he's only 30 but because she is technically his aunt, and he should be calling her "oba".
  • In Gurren Lagann, Nia always calls Old Coco oji-san, until his name is revealed mid-series. Kamina, on the other hand, averts Never Speak Ill of the Dead and always refers to his father as oyaji, even directly addressing his skeleton as such.
  • Super Dimension Fortress Macross has Hikaru repeatedly calling Misa oba-san, a fact she takes offense for (she's barely older that him). What makes it funny is that he keeps doing it even after he realizes he's insulting a superior officer by doing so.
  • In Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi, Yorozu Senka becomes greatly offended when Kazuma calls her oba-san, insisting upon the less-ageist nee-san.
  • In Daa! Daa! Daa! a three year old girl refers to a fourteen year old girl as oba-san. This isn't an innocent mistake, but an insult, since the three year old considers teenagers to be over-the-hill.
  • In Gunbuster, Noriko is surprised to hear herself addressed as this by her best friend's very young daughter. She immediately requests to be called "onee-san" instead. But by the final episode, she seems to have accepted the oba-san title.
  • Okusama wa Mahou Shoujo has Cruje using "oba-sama" to Ureshiko as an insult, as the latter is still a Magical Girl by the tender age of 26.

Live Action TV

  • It's common for Super Sentai to have a Christmas Cake villainess be taunted as "oba-san" by the young female Rangers. Tsuetsue in Gaoranger and Kegareshia in Go-onger are just two examples.
    • Moune from Goseiger addresses Hyde as "ossan" (old man), more in response to his treating her like a child than his actual age (Word of God states he is 24 years old.)
    • Inverted in an episode of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger where Basco makes a point of mockingly addressing Matsuri Tatsumi as "onee-san" rather than "oba-san" though he doesn't know she's Ahim in disguise.
  • Once-off examples also happen, such as the episode of Kamen Rider Kiva where a woman who's somewhere above thirty (she appears about 10 in flashbacks 22 years ago) gets called this.

Video Games

  • Male version: Anji Mito from Guilty Gear hates being called "oji-san", which means "uncle". He hates it to the point of physically attacking people who call him that.
    • It's a fighting game. He would probably attack them anyway.
    • He didn't really get mad at May when she called him that, and instead asks if he could be called "Onii-san". Too bad May's policy is "Older than her + not Johnny = 'Oji-san'".
    • In Blaz Blue, during Rachel's Gag Reel, Noel flings this insult towards her rivals for Ragna's attention. It worked for Litchi and Kokonoe, but not on Nirvana and Lambda.
  • Female version: The third case for the first Gyakuten Saiban game introduces an elderly security guard named Kaoru Ooba. She tends to get very angry at people who use the otherwise innocent honorific "san", i.e. calling her "Ooba-san". In the English version, Ace Attorney, her name is Wendy Oldbag, keeping the joke to some extent by people calling her "Windy Oldbag".
  • Dan Hibiki from the Street Fighter Alpha series is fond of screaming "oyaji" before his fights begin. In this case, he's referring to his dead father.
  • Mistel is very much Not Pleased with Milanor continuing to call her this in Yggdra Union even after she insists, repeatedly, that everyone refer to her by name.
  • In Harvest Moon DS Cute, there's a scene where Popuri gets mad at the local kids for referring to her as Oba-san, and even requests to be called Onee-san instead. They then fight and blame one another for picking the wrong thing to call her, and who called her that first--Popuri gets so upset she runs off crying.
  • In a Tales of Hearts sidequest, a little girl finds out that Richea is Really 2,000 Years Old and calls her a chou-Oba-san. This elicits such shock that the screen freezes and turns greyscale for a moment - an effect previously used to punctuate the death of an important side character.
  • Western example: This appears in Dragon Age Origins if you are playing a Human Noble. When your nephew Owen calls you Auntie (Uncle for a male character), you can respond that you wish he wouldn't call you that. His mother explains to him that this is probably because it makes you feel old.

 Owen: But she is old!

  • "Baa-baa" ("grandma", more often "old hag") is a running gag among Touhou fans when it comes to Yukari Yakumo and Kanako Yasaka, two of the most physically mature (and oldest) members of a cast made up predominately of lolis and pettankos. A recent Touhou M-1 Grand Prix skit between Kanako and her partner-goddess Suwako Moriya plays this up, with Suwako calling Kanako "baa-baa" several times during the routine. Kanako initially requests to be called onee-san, but eventually resorts to pointing out that she's younger than Suwako is.
    • Yagokoro Eirin, Saigyouji Yuyuko and (most recently) Hijiri Byakuren have joined what is now dubbed by fans as the "Old Maids' Alliance".
  • In Lightning Legend Daigo no Daibouken, calling the 20-years old Misa Atago "Oba-chan" inevitably triggers her Berserk Button. Of course, this is used for all its worth comedy-wise when she meets the younger characters of the game, Daigo and Yuki, as well as serving as the reason why she fights them.
  • In one of the endings of Madou Souhei Kleinhasa, Roze is called this by the children at the orphanage after Franz proposes to her, reasoning that a married woman should be Oba-san rather than Onee-san. Roze (being in her mid-twenties at most) is not pleased, but says yes.

Web Original

  • Azrael of Gaijin Smash (formerly "I am a Japanese School Teacher",) comments periodically on what a terror an angry oba-san can be. In one entry he describes how a field trip up Mount Fuji was cut short by a terrible typhoon, and on the way down his group was passed by a troop of obasan who had already reached the top through the building winds, and were now marching down.
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