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What is Namamono?

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.

 

Etymology

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.”

 

Brief History

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.

 

Further Readings:

ナマモノ
https://dic.pixiv.net/a/%E3%83%8A%E3%83%9E%E3%83%A2%E3%83%8E

ナマモノ(nmmn)の8つのルール!│気をつけること・マナー・注意点まとめ
https://www.netohapi.com/entry/pixiv-nmmn-chuuiten

ナマモノとは}
https://dic.nicovideo.jp/a/%E3%83%8A%E3%83%9E%E3%83%A2%E3%83%8E#h2-3

芸能同人/ ナマモノ同人
https://www.paradisearmy.com/doujin/pasok_geinoudoujin.htm

 

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