What does “omae wa mou shindeiru” mean? Is it a shochu?
“Omae wa mou shindeiru!”
You might be familiar with this phrase, as it’s used as a meme and originates from a manga series called “Fist of the North Star.” The phrase itself is authoritative, bossy, and disrespectful, unless you use it in the context of a joke among people familiar with manga.
You might also come across this phrase as you browse the alcohol aisle, as it’s the name of a shochu, a popular distilled alcoholic beverage.
If you’re interested in Japanese slang and meme terminology, you’re probably wondering, “what does it mean, and where does it come from?”
We’ll explain in this in-depth post, so let’s dive in.
In this post we'll cover:
What do the words “omae wa mou shindeiru” mean?
The phrase consists of four basic Japanese words.
Omae is the word for “you” in the male form. In the Japanese language, the words are gendered. This way of saying “you” is rough and kind of rude because it has an aggressive connotation.
The second word wa is a verb, and it means “being”. It’s the equivalent of “is” or “are” in English.
Mou translates to “already”.
Finally, the word shindeiru means “dead”.
So when you put the words together, you get “you are already dead”!
Origin of the phrase “omae wa mou shindeiru”
This phrase’s origin comes from a famous Japanese manga (the Japanese version of comics and graphic novels) called “Hokuto no Ken”, or “Fist of the North Star” in English.
It’s now a very popular meme phrase, but it’s generally considered a harsh and rude sentence to use outside manga fandoms.
The phrase is similar to some of the English-language film catchphrases like “May the Force be with you”, a famous Star Wars one everyone knows. Even if you haven’t watched the movies, you’ve probably heard that phrase in popular culture references.
The manga called “Hokuto no Ken” (or “Fist of the North Star”) first debuted in 1983 and remained popular all throughout the ’80s until the mid-2000s. Even to this day, many Japanese people are familiar with the manga series.
The comic’s main protagonist Kenshiro always says this phrase when he kills one of his enemies. For example, he famously beats his enemies, kills them, and exclaims, “omae wa mou shindeiru”, asserting his superior martial arts fighting skills.
The manga is full of violent scenes and the main character kills others by quickly flapping his arms and legs with martial arts moves.
“You’re already dead” is an important phrase that marks the point in the story where it’s clear the villains don’t stand a chance against the powerful hero.
Interestingly, the controversial phrase was very popular among school-aged children for many years. It was most popular among boys who would be heard yelling “omae wa mou shindeiru” in school hallways.
The “omae wa mou shindeiru” meme
In the 2000s, “omae wa mou shindeiru” became an anime meme.
This happened because the “Fist of the North Star” series began to air again, and people took an interest in the character named Kenshiro.
The phrase became a meme, and people posted responses to it called “NANI”. This word just means “what”, but it’s the most common response to “omae wa mou shindeiru”.
Only anime and manga fans use NANI as a response, and it’s not part of Japanese culture outside of manga fandoms.
Why is saying “omae wa mou shindeiru” impolite?
In the manga and anime, this meme is used aggressively because the protagonist Kenshiro looks down on others. The main character always has a superior “I’m better than you” type of attitude.
The words in the phrase are also considered more “slang” than polite vocabulary. And in Japan, it’s impolite to use informal language, so definitely don’t use this phrase when having formal conversations!
Also unique is Japanese food culture: Etiquette and table manners when eating Japanese food.
How to use the phrase “omae wa mou shindeiru”
Since” omae wa mou shindeiru” is an informal way of speaking, Japanese people DO NOT use this phrase in conversations.
While maybe 30 years ago, people would use the phrase in jokes or in manga-related conversations, these days, it’s unlikely to hear it in casual discussions.
In fact, it has fallen out of the common vocabulary.
Some younger people, especially kids, are totally unfamiliar with the manga series and the context of “omae wa mou shindeiru”. So, it’s only known among manga and anime fans, as well as middle-aged people.
So you can use the phrase if you find yourself among a group of middle-aged anime fans, or you can use it in a playful context.
However, when you’re in a younger crowd, avoid using the phrase because if people aren’t familiar with it, they’ll find it offensive!
Shochu – A Japanese beverage
These days, “omae wa mou shindeiru” is a type of Japanese distilled alcohol called shochu, which is similar to sake. This drink is also similar to vodka, but it can be distilled from all kinds of prime materials, including barley, rice, buckwheat, or sweet potato.
In general, shochu is cheaper than other types of alcoholic beverages, and the hangover isn’t as bad (whoohoo!). The alcohol’s effects usually wear out after a few hours, which makes it popular for parties and company events.
There’s a specific shochu brand called “omae wa mou shindeiru,” and the brand uses Kenshiro from “Hokuto no Ken” as the face of the drink. Some of the bottles feature other characters from the beloved manga.
Each bottle also features popular catchphrases from the series, besides Hokuto no Ken’s well-known words.
The drinks are most often gifted on special occasions because this specific shochu isn’t as popular anymore.
It’s a great gift idea for an older manga fan who’s more likely to recognize “Hokuto no Ken” and the anime meme. If you want to try it, you can order it online in some specialty stores!
Use “omae wa mou shindeiru” wisely
Now that you know what this catchphrase from “Hokuto no Ken” (“Fist of the North Star”) means, you’ll be able to use it at the most opportune moments. The next time your friend’s already dead from their actions (figuratively speaking, of course), just throw this anime meme at them to emphasize just how pissed you are at them!
Dive deeper into Japanese culture: Geiko, Geisha or Maiko? The differences and the culture.
Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.