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Synonyms: top
See also: Big Guy, Little Guy, uke, yaoi, Height Rule
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Seme is a term originating in martial arts created by the Samurai Warriors fandom[1] and used by yaoi fans to describe the dominant or "pursuing" half in a male-male relationship (uke being the submissive or "pursued" half). The seme is typically the one who actively initiates the relationship, from subtle wooing to rape. The word is derived from the Japanese verb "semeru," which means "to attack."


Following the stereotyped and heteronormative precepts of this denomination, the active male characters of a relationship slash are usually presented as tall, older than their counterpart uke, sometimes exhibits stereotypical alpha male characteristics: overprotective, masculine like a macho type, and physically powerful. Artistically, they are often depicted with smaller eyes, more well-defined jawlines with more rigid humor, they almost never smile, and when they do, it's because their lover has done something stupid or romantic.


In modern Japanese fandom, several other terms have arisen to replace "seme", although the term is still in use. Hidari, or "left", is sometimes used to refer to the top partner, while migi ("right") is used to refer to the bottom, with these terms deriving from the order of the ship name. More rarely, the term "tachi" (slang for a top among the LGBT community) may be used to describe the top.

Sou-zeme is used to describe either multiship works in which a single character is depicted as the seme to numerous other characters, or to indicate that someone is a multishipper with a single character as the top in all cases. The term is variously translated as "total seme" or "cockslut". It's much more rarely used than its counterpart term, sou-uke.

Fan Comments


[...] Of course, then there's the whole seme/uke business, which comes off as the authors having to put the characters into what are really thinly-veiled male/female roles so that it's easier for their heterosexual female target audience to identify with them. I mean, could you get any more heteronormative?[2]