Namamono, often also written as “nmmn,” is a term used in the doujin community to describe shipping real human beings, or the equivalent of RPF (Real Person Fiction) or RPS (Real Person Slash) in the English-speaking fandom. Compared to other doujin works and ships based on fictional characters, namamono doujin works and audiences tend to be more hidden and isolated on purpose.
“Namamono” is written as 生もの, derived from 生物 (“seibutsu,” literally means “organism”), which could also be read as “namamono.” The literal meaning is “perishable food” or “raw food ingredients in food or culinary contexts. As with the case with many other terms in the doujin community, this word is also a wordplay implying that the “ingredients” of the ship/fiction are real living human beings. When used in doujin context, the word is often written fully in katakana characters (ナマモノ) or romanized and abbreviated as “nmmn.”
Technically speaking, the history of namamono is very old, considering even the Tales of Genji written by the esteemed Murasaki Shikibu could be regarded as a namamono since it was based on actual human beings. The popularity of the Shinsengumi and Oda Nobunaga in multiple popular series can also be seen as a form of namamono at work. However, when it comes to derivative and transformative works depicting celebrities in the doujin community, one source states that the earliest of this namamono began in the late 1980s with male idol groups and has continued even now.
In Japan, considering that many derivative and transformative namamono doujinshi are based on existing people, this particular corner of the doujin community is highly secretive and strict on both creators and audience. People into namamono ships abide by very strict rules to keep the actual people the doujinshi are based on and fans who are not into namamono from accidentally stumbling into the works. Various efforts are implemented to keep its seclusion. These efforts include locking namamono works with specific passwords only familiar to people who like namamono, secret websites, and accounts that can only be accessed in certain specific ways that use codes and certain terms outside of the doujin community will not understand.
The rules are intended not only to keep the actual person being made into doujinshi from seeing it and getting uncomfortable but also to protect both namamono creators and audiences from other fans’ judgment since they are aware that namamono falls into a gray morality area.
Namamono: Modern Usage
With the era of social media, creators and audiences of namamono have grown even more creative in secluding their corner from the rest of the community. However, at the same time, the rising popularity of initially 2D series being transformed into 2.5D live-action drama, musicals, or stageplays have also led people into searching for 半なま (“han nama,” referring to 2D characters portrayed by actual actors) works. A good number of such fans had found their way to the secluded namamono corner of the doujin community. While namamono is not for everyone, the term itself is now well-known and considered common knowledge within Japan’s doujin community.
About futekiya: Read what you love
In 2018, futekiya began as a Boys Love (BL) manga news and culture website operated by FANTASISTA, INC., a CG/VR production studio based in Tokyo, Japan. futekiya transformed into a budding global distributor of officially licensed BL manga in 2019.
futekiya launched as an online subscription service for officially licensed BL manga on July 8, 2019. Determined to connect fans around the world with English-translated BL legally and conveniently, futekiya empowers readers to support creators and the manga industry.
Readers who subscribe to futekiya and pay a flat monthly fee of $6.99 will have access to our expanding library of English-language manga. By the end of 2020, subscribers will have unlimited access to at least 400 titles. To subscribe, please go to read.futekiya.com and create an account. More information is in our guide.