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The concepts of senpai ("senior" or "upperclassman"; also spelled "sempai"note ) and kōhai ("junior" or "underclassman"; also spelled kouhai) permeate Japanese society. In fiction, you see them used most often in school settings, but the system also applies after graduation, in the workplace. Older students (or workers with greater seniority) are known as senpai, and junior students/workers (or kōhai) are required to defer to them, and address them with the honorific -senpai and polite speech patterns. In return, the senpai is obligated to look out for, and protect, the kōhai. Think of the senpai as students who are actually into the workings of the school and the kouhai as the inexperienced ones who are just getting acquiesced with the environment — with the added "sir"ing — though as with many Japanese tropes there is no precise Western equivalent.


In real life, this trope is part of Confucianism's influence on Sinospheric (including Japanese) cultures.

For whatever reason, the Senpai/Kohai relationship is a rather popular one within the Yaoi Genre and Yuri Genre; compare Lover and Beloved.

I hope senpai will notice these examples today:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Accel World:
    • Kuroyukihime, being a year older than Haru, Chiyu and Taku, is also their senpai. The former two call her "Senpai," while Taku calls her "Master," after he joins her Legion. In the first OVA, Haru starts to call her by name, but stops himself and calls her "senpai" instead.
    • Seiji Noumi calls Haru and his fellow yearmates "senpai," but considering that he's Haru's enemy in Brain Burst, it's not out of respect. The fact that Wolfram Cerberus III also calls Haru "Arita-senpai" helps Haru realize that he has a copy of Noumi's personality.
  • Ace of the Diamond: While the trope is seen in effect in all baseball teams, with the team members referring to their seniors as "-senpai", protagonist Eijun Sawamura (1st year) seems to have it the most with Chris Yuu Takigawa (3rd year) and Kazuya Miyuki (2nd year), the two catchers who help him bring out his potential as a pitcher to eventually become The Ace of Seidou High. Interestingly, while he addresses both with the honorific, Chris is a Big Brother Mentor whom Eijun deeply respects in and out of the field, while Miyuki is The Gadfly and out of the field loves to mess with people, to the point Eijun can barely stand him.
  • In Ai Yori Aoshi, the university-going characters seem to be in the same year, but they have senpai/kohai relationships based on who joined the photography club first. Taeko always attaches "senpai" to Kaoru and Tina's names. Kaoru in turn is kohai to Tina and Those Two Guys, but he's close enough with them that he doesn't call them senpai.
  • In Asteroid in Love, there are a few generations of senpai and kohai. At the start of the series, Mari and Mikage are third-years, Mai is a second-year and Ao and Mira are first-years. Eventually, Mari and Mikage graduate, at which point Chikage and Yuu get into high school and become the newest members of the Earth Sciences club.
  • Ayakashi Triangle: Matsuri addresses Soga on a Full-Name Basis with the -senpai honorific, or just as "senpai", because he's a year senior in both high school and as an exorcist ninja. Though generally withdrawn, Matsuri is deferential, admiring, and open to his senpai. Soga is less warm, considering their relationship a Friendly Rivalry, but still supportive and protective in his own way. Complicating matter, Soga has been attracted to Matsuri since the latter became female, making him very uncomfortable with Matsuri's more affectionate moments. Eventually, they get on a First-Name Basis, but Matsuri still tends to call him "(Soga-)senpai".
  • Azumanga Daioh: When the girls start their second year, Chiyo-chan is fuming that she's not being taken seriously by her underclassmen (who are, of course, older than her). After a first-year student asks "What's a kid doing here?", Chiyo accosts him and makes him call her "Mihama-senpai", to the boy's bewilderment. She then walks off giggling at the sound of it. The ADV translation of the manga adapted this as "Miss Mihama", while the later Yen Press translation keeps it as "senpai". In the anime dub, she makes him call her "Senior Mihama", a more literal translation (like when she calls her classmates "Miss (Name)", instead of "(Name)-san"—for example, "Miss Osaka").
  • Bakuman。:
    • Iwase addresses Aoki as a senpai while they attend Tokyo University together, as Iwase is a freshman while Aoki is a graduate student.
    • Hattori is Miura and Kosugi's senpai among the Shonen Jump editorial department.
    • Mangaka refer to more experienced ones as "senpai", as Takagi refers to veteran mangaka Arai as "Arai-senpai". Some of Nanamine's helpers decide to leave after hearing that he's going to "pick a fight with a senpai mangaka".
  • In Beelzebub, Takamiya refers to Fuji as his senpai, because they were both taught by Saotome. Fuji returns the sentiment in kind, calling him his kohai, insinuating that Saotome taught him before Takamiya.
  • In Beyond the Boundary, Akihito is Mirai's senpai. Mirai initially refers to Akihito as just "Senpai" out of politeness as well as to distance herself from him. It becomes something of an Affectionate Nickname as the series progresses. Notably, Mirai still calls Akihito this after they've already become a couple.
  • Black Clover: Because Asta's enthusiastic and one of the youngest and newest members of the Black Bulls, he often refers to the older members as senpai, especially Magna. Played for Laughs when Zora takes advantage of his senpai status towards Asta when he reveals that he's a Black Bull.
  • Bleach:
    • Hisagi is the senpai to the year group Kira, Hinamori, Renji and Rukia were in. Renji continues to refer to him as senpai more than forty years after they've all graduated.
    • Yoruichi was both Soifon and Byakuya's senpai. Byakuya also regards Ukitake as a senpai.
    • Kyouraku and Ukitake regard Unohana as their senpai... a very, very scary senpai.
  • Bloom Into You:
    • Touko is Yuu's senpai, being a year ahead of her in school, and often helps her study. Sayaka is also senpai to Yuu and the other first-years on the student council, but while the first-years respectfully call her "Saeki-senpai," there isn't as much of a mentorship aspect in their relationships with her. After Yuu and Touko start a romantic relationship, Yuu switches to calling her "Touko-senpai," then, at Touko's request, calls her "Touko" after Their First Time.
    • Yuu also has two kouhai from her middle school softball team, who, to Yuu's dismay, are already taller than her.
    • Sayaka also has a senpai from her old school, who also happens to be her ex-girlfriend. The older girl had gone out with Sayaka for a little while, only to abruptly break it off with her due to believing that they were outgrowing the Gay Romantic Phase.
    • Akari has a crush on her (male) senpai from the basketball team.
    • Kuze, the Student Council President at the start of the series, is senpai to Touko and Sayaka, who serve under him while they're first-years and he's a second-year. He's also a senpai to Doujima by virtue of their being on the kendo team, and this is part of the reason why Kuze recommends Doujima to Touko once she becomes president.
    • Haru is Sayaka's kohai at their university, as well as her eventual girlfriend. She continues using the "senpai" honorific, albeit on Sayaka's first name, after they start dating.
  • In Burn Up Scramble, Lilika calls both her teammates senpai, even right after drunkenly kissing Rio.
  • Cells At Work! White Brigade: Band Cell, training to become a mature Neutrophil, calls the Neutrophil squad members "senpai," and the Neutrophil squad acknowledges him as their kouhai.
  • In A Centaur's Life, one of the younger students at Himeno's family archery dojo tells Himeno to treat her with respect once she gets into Himeno's high school. Some other characters remind the younger girl that she'll be Himeno's kohai at school, and will owe Himeno respect.
  • In Chobits, Yumi is incessant in referring to Hideki as her Senpai, even in the English dub.
  • Code Geass:
    • Andreas Darlton and Gilbert G.P. Guilford begin treating Suzaku Kururugi in this fashion after he wins their respect, and even moreso after he's selected as Euphemia's Knight (they're both Knights of Euphemia's older sister Cornelia). In the second season, Guilford offers him some friendly advice and, when Suzaku expresses surprise, he openly admits to trying to play the senpai. (Despite the fact that in terms of status, Suzaku has surpassed Guilford at this point by becoming a Knight of the Round.)
    • Princess Cornelia, despite her royal status (she's officially fourth in line for the throne, and unofficially closer to second in line), treats Nonette Enneagram, the Knight of Nine, as her senpai in the audio dramas.
  • Digimon:
    • In Digimon Adventure, 02 and tri., Jou is the eldest, and thus senpai to the entire group, though it's mostly the girls who call him that. He takes his responsibility as such very seriously, even though no one else does. It's worth noting that Sora, Mimi, Koushirou, and Hikari still call Jou "Jou-senpai" six years later, even though he didn't go to the same middle school and high school as the others.
    • Miyako also calls Koushirou "Izumi-senpai," as he was her senior in the computer club, and Daisuke refers to Taichi as "Taichi-senpai," as he was his senior in the soccer club.
    • Taiki himself becomes a senpai to Tagiru and Yuu in the sequel season to Xros Wars.
    • Meicoomon in tri. insists on calling all of the other partner Digimon (and Leomon!) senpai. Leomon is whacked hard by the Cuteness Proximity.
  • Don't Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro: The male lead is never referred to by name, only called "Senpai" by Nagatoro, since she's one year under him.
  • Shin of Dorohedoro is Noi's senpai. They happily make bets on who will kill the most or eat the fastest. Despite being basically assassins, they're pretty decent guys. Shin only allows Noi to call him like that though.
  • In Durarara!!, Tom and Shizuo still hold something of a senpai-kohai relationship long after both of them have graduated from school (with Shizuo now working as Tom's bodyguard). When Tom hires another bodyguard alongside Shizuo, Shizuo is elated that he gets to have a kohai of his own, completely oblivious to the fact that said kohai is plotting to kill him.
  • In Elfen Lied, Yuka originally knew Nozomi as her kouhai.
  • Hyatt and Elgala always refers to Excel as "Excel-senpai" in Excel Saga. In the English dub and manga translation, it's just "Senior".
  • For the most part, Fairy Tail and the other guilds in the setting don't use this concept, and in the Fairy Girls spinoff, Wendy(one of the youngest and newest members of Fairy Tail) tells Sumire as such when she joins. That said, when Sumire despite having infiltrated Fairy Tail for her employers, does a Heel–Face Turn and risks her life to protect the friends she betrayed, Wendy comes to her rescue, saying that it's a senpai's responsibility to protect the kohai. Outside the guild, though, Lucy, working as a reporter for a temporary job during the second Time Skip, calls her coworker Jason "Jason-senpai".
  • In Fly Me to the Moon, Kaname, the younger of the Arisugawa sisters, was Nasa's kohai in middle school. Her classmate Kyuuma is also Nasa's kohai, but usually gets the syllables backwards and ends up calling him "Paisen."
  • Food Wars!:
    • Isshiki is senpai to the rest of the Polaris dorm. Makes sense, since he is a year older than the others, as well as Seventh Seat of the Elite Ten. He takes this role very seriously, to the point that insulting his kouhai is his personal Berserk Button and he goes into Tranquil Fury when he faces the one responsible.
    • Azami, in spite of having graduated nearly twenty years earlier, is still obsessed with gaining approval from "dear Saiba-senpai" from high school, taking things well into Mad Love territory.
  • In Free!, both Nagisa and Rei are kouhai to Haruka and Makoto's senpai, but by far the most obvious example is Rin and Nitori, who always refers to the former with 'Matsuoka-senpai' and then later 'Rin-senpai' and definitely has a bit of an idol crush on him.
  • In Freezing, Pandora and Limiters enhance their powers by establishing an Ereinbar Set with each other, through a ritual known as a baptism. For some reason, the Ereinbar Set is the strongest when the Limiter is younger than the Pandora, and so most Limiters refer to their Pandora as senpai. Pandora/Limiter relationships are also frequently romantic in nature, and it's mentioned that Pandora often marry their Limiters after completing their tours of service with the Chevalier.
  • Unusually for a series set in a Japanese school, this does not show up much in Genshiken. One significant exception: Oguie consistently refers to Sasahara as "senpai," even when she's at her Tsundere-est.
  • In the manga of Ghost in the Shell Batou gets on Togusa's case (Togusa being the rookie of the pair) about not backing his senpai. Togusa replies that kind of thinking is obsolete. The translation used may actually be the most bizarre used yet, with "senpai" translated to "bishop."
  • In Girls und Panzer, the first-years typically refer to Miho and her friends, who are second years as "senpai". Saori tries to convince Mako to come to a match at 6 a.m. by saying that if she quits the team over that, she'll get held back and have to call her "Saori-senpai", something that Mako, who typically calls Saori by her first name without honorifics, apparently finds unpleasant. In Der Film, Fukuda is apparently a junior member of the Chihatan tank team, since she addresses the others as "senpai," and some of the older members get offended when she calls them out on blindly charging into everything.
  • Subverted in Haruhi Suzumiya. Mikuru is (officially) Haruhi's senpai, but still gets used like a dishrag by Haruhi.
  • In Harukanaru Toki no Naka de, Shimon calls Tenma "sempai".
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers:
    • Subverted. Hutt River claims to be Wy's sempai (translated as senior in scanlations), but Wy doesn't pay him much respect: she is less than willing to greet him when she goes by his home and she even agrees with Molossia when he calls Hutt River a "lameass bastard". Still, Hutt's ridiculously snobby attitude doesn't help.
    • In another instance, when Sealand learns that Iceland also attempts to auction himself on eBay due to financial difficulties, he proclaims that the two should be friends because of their being in "similar circumstances," and that Iceland should call him his "senior" and "rely" on him. Iceland doesn't know what he means, which drives Sealand to despair.
  • In Hidamari Sketch, Sae and Hiro are Yuno's and Miyako's sempai. They all seem to get along pretty well, so they don't seem to treat it like an obligation. In volume 4 of the manga and the third season of the anime, they all get two new kouhai: Nori and Nazuna. (Incidentally, Yuno moved into the room occupied by Hiro and Sae's sempai, Misato.)
  • In I Can't Believe I Slept With You, a complicated case happens when Chiyo Kozuka gets a job at a deli where she worked in high school. When her boss mentions the latter detail to Yotsugaya, a worker who would otherwise be her senpai, Yotsugaya suggests that Kozuka would be her senpai, but Kozuka says she's forgotten a lot of her job, and says she'll be relying on Yotsugaya. In the end, both women use the -san honorific on each other, rather than -senpai.
  • I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up features the main character, Machi, getting into a pretend marriage with her kohai, Hana, to put an end to her parents pressuring her to marry a successful man. Hana almost exclusively addresses Machi as "Sempai." The original Japanese title refers to Hana as Machi's kohai (specifying that she's a female kohai), rather than her best friend.
  • Is the Order a Rabbit?: Sharo always refers to Rize as 'Rize-sempai', and even went to her high school to begin with because she was so entranced by the way Rize gallantly saved her from a rabbit one time. Naturally, she has an obvious crush on her. This is the only sempai/kouhai relationship in the series, though, because the girls are split up into different schools, and all the other schoolmates are in the same year.
  • K-On!:
    • Azusa refers to the older members of the light music club as '-sempai', much to Yui's delight. In the anime, they buy her a little tortoise because they think she wants a kouhai that badly. She doesn't, but the little guy does grow on her.
    • Of course, in K-On! High School, she, Ui, and Jun get their own kouhai in Nao and Tsumire, though it takes Azusa some time to get into the role.
    • And in K-On! College, Ritsu, Mio, Tsumugi, and Yui find themselves with senpai again, this time in Kana and Chiyo.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War:
    • Despite the manga starting with the latter being terrified of the former, Kaguya develops a close relationship with Ishigami as the series progresses. By the time of the culture festival, they're basically siblings in all but name. Maki develops a similar relationship with him (though not to the same extent) as a result of her being Kaguya's Shadow Archetype.
    • Fujiwara becomes Iino's sempai when the latter joins the student council, a relationship that she gleefully takes advantage of. Ishigami even compares it to an abusive romance.
    • Later on, Ishigami has a romantic version with Tsubame Koyasu, the vice captain of the cheer squad, following the events of the sports festival.
    • Shirogane starts cultivating this sort of relationship with Iino later in the series after he realizes that they were The Friends Who Never Hang. It is more or less the Distaff Counterpart of Kaguya and Ishigami's relationship, with chapters focusing on them even being called "Senpai-kun and Kouhai-chan".
  • In Kaiju Girl Caramelise, Koutarou Hibino worked under Rinko Akaishi when they were traveling biologists, and he calls her "sempai" in the present. Koutarou is also an Honorary Uncle to Rinko's daughter Kuroe, and is actually one of the few people Kuroe is on friendly terms with (the fact that he's one of the few people who knows about Kuroe's Involuntary Shapeshifting also helps).
  • In Kochikame, Kankichi Ryotsu is often called Sempai by most of the fellow police officers.
  • In Love Hina, Shinobu frequently calls Keitaro "sempai". And it is about the only form of direct, non-grudging respect he ever gets from anyone. Until the manga's epilogue, when the regulars vociferously defend him to new girl Ema.
  • Love Live! School Idol Project:
    • When the school announces that it is closing and will cease taking in new students for subsequent years due to a lack of applicants, the first-years are especially heartbroken about it because they'll never experience the joy of having kouhai. Fortunately, towards the end of the first season, the school receives enough applications to reverse this decision.
    • In the Beach Episode, Eli decides the group should stop using sempai/kohai among members to "break down the sempai barrier" and make everyone friendlier with each other. Much awkwardness ensues, but the group ultimately embraces the change.
  • From the one time she's seen doing it, Konata from Lucky Star seems to enjoy surprising first-years by status-dropping when she goes to see her cousin in her class. Given that Konata is still short and flat enough to look like she's not old enough to be in high school even after she later graduates, it's quite a shock.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, Signum refers to herself as being the kohai of the renegade Zest when she encounters him since she used to be a member of the branch where he held rank as an officer.
    • At the end of A's, when Hayate mentions that she's joining the TSAB, she notes that it will make her Nanoha and Fate's kohai, although they never officially have that kind of relationship. Hayate even uses the term "kohai" in the English dub of that scene. Near the beginning of the season, Mary addresses Amy as "Amy-sempai".
    • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid, Vivio refers to Einhart as her sempai, but calls her "Einhart-san" rather than "Einhart-sempai"
  • In Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story, Mel, one of the newer members of Yachiyo and Mifuyu's magical girl group, calls Yachiyo "Nanami-sempai."
  • Magical Sempai is about a high school magician who is the protagonist's sempai; the former is known only as "Sempai."
  • Maria Watches Over Us:
    • Sei Suga is thrilled to receive a visit from current Lillian students at her office, as all of them are her kohai.
    • The Soeur system is based on this as well.
    • This is referenced in the Tag Team Fighting Game Maribato!, where the girls in Arcade Mode are paired according to the group they belong to (Yumi with Sachiko, Sei with Shimako, Rei with Yoshino, etc.)
  • In Minami-ke, Kana passes off "Mako-chan" as a kohai of hers in order to explain why a girl Chiaki's age keeps visiting her. Meanwhile, Haruka and her friends deal with Hosaka, whose attentions are unwanted but can't just be ignored because he's their sempai.
  • In Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Kobayashi ends up taking Elma under her wing when the latter ends up working at the same company. Tohru doesn't take it well, especially because Elma is her arch rival. Elma also refers to Takiya as senpai in later chapters.
  • In Miss Sunflower, Ayame is Miss Sunflower's sempai, since she was classmates with Miss Sunfower's older brother. Miss Sunflower called Ayame "Sempai" until Ayame asked her to call her by name.
  • Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun:
    • Since Wakamatsu is the only first year in the group, he treats the others as his sempais, but Nozaki has his particular respect, as the latter was the captain of the middle school's basketball team.
    • Hori is referred to as Sempai by the rest of the group not only because of his age—he's the only senior in the main cast—but also due to the prestige of the drama club.
    • Miyamae and Maeno are the same age and even knew each other in school, but Maeno has two more years of experience in the manga industry, technically making him a sempai to Miyamae. The latter deeply resents it.
    • Mayu respects Wakamatsu as an upperclassman who plays sport. For this reason he's the only older character he doesn't call by his first name ("Wakamatsu-senpai"), which Mikoshiba picks up on.
  • In Mr. Right Turned Out to Be a Younger Woman!?, Haruki Shiina, who's 33, is sempai to the 23-year-old Risa Takagai, but Takagai is so good at her job that Shiina feels threatened. Takagai is sempai to a couple of other female employees, one of whom got together with Takagai's ex-boyfriend.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • In the Internship arc, three prominent third-years known as the Big Three are introduced, and they play the sempai to various members of Class 1-A. Midoriya works alongside Mirio under Sir Nighteye, Kirishima works with Tamaki in Fat Gum's hero agency, and Tsuyu and Uraraka join Nejire as Ryukyu's sidekicks. The localization of the manga retains the "sempai" honorific, but the official subs simply have the juniors call their seniors by their surname or hero name.
    • As the first year of high school draws to a close, the members of Class 1-A realize that they'll become sempais to the next class after them, but considering that U.A.'s Hero Course has no clubs, they're unlikely to spend much time with their kohais.
  • In My-Otome, each second-year Pearl Otome serves as an Onee-sama to two Coral Otomes (on average, one of the two does not make it to the second year). While most are addressed as "-onee-sama," Nina and Arika refer to Nao, and other Pearl Otomes, as "-sempai." In the English dub, this is translated as "big sister," with no difference given between -onee-sama and -sempai. Even the Meister Otome whom Arika calls "-san" get "Big Sister".
    • In the My-HiME sound drama, "As the Cherry Blossoms Bloom", Shizuru, believing that Natsuki will never return her feelings, decides to be a good friend and sempai to her, until the Carnival starts, causing her 1)to realize that Natsuki will die if Shizuru loses and 2)to gain some hope that Natsuki will accept her feelings. Yuuichi also refers to Reito as "Kanzaki-sempai" or just "sempai".
  • My Senpai Is Annoying is about the relationship between Futaba Igarashi and her sempai Takeda. In the story, it's pointed out that he's the only senior coworker she uses "sempai" on, and she uses "-san" on most of the others.
  • In My Younger Senpai, the main character, Nanasawa, has unrequited feelings for her female senpai from the high school drama club, Seto. At the start of the series, when Nanasawa is 25, she learns that Seto(whom she hasn't heard from in a while) recently divorced her husband and gave up on love. Nanasawa then goes back in time 25 years and tries to win Seto's heart as an adult woman.
  • Naruto:
    • When it comes to ANBU, Kakashi is senpai to Yuugao and Yamato. He convinces Yamato to pay for a ramen lunch(which Yamato points out would be Kakashi's obligation as the senpai) by suggesting that while he may be his senpai, Yamato is the only kohai he respects, and the two are essentially equals. The anime and light novels also imply he had a similar relationship with Itachi prior to the massacre.
    • Sakura refers to Shizune, Tsunade's first apprentice, as a senpai, and in an omake, Tsunade chides Shizune for not showing enough confidence in her junior disciple Sakura's chances of passing Kakashi's test.
    • Suigetsu, an once-aspiring member of the Seven Mist Swordsmen, calls the members "senpai", despite the fact that his goal is to kill them and steal their weapons. It's mainly due his lingering respect of them, as they were once comrades of his older brother, Mangetsu.
    • Ino refers to Shizune as "Shizune-sempai" in the anime, which plays up her involvement as a medical ninja and suggests that she learned medical ninjutsu from Tsunade. In the manga, she just calls her "Shizune-san".
    • Pain jokes that as they shared a master(Jiraiya), Naruto should consider him his Sempai. Naruto is not amused.
  • Tsukuyomi uses this with Setsuna in Negima! Magister Negi Magi, both being closely-aged and similar-in-power members of the Shinmeiryuu, with Setsuna being both slightly older and stronger. Its implied that Tsukuyomi merely uses this playfully, not having quite the level of respect the title would otherwise connotate. And later on it becomes pretty freaking obvious.
  • Maya Ibuki in Neon Genesis Evangelion calls Ritsuko "senpai", which was given a whole new context in a scene in End of Evangelion.
  • New Game!:
    • While Hajime's tickled that Aoba, the main character and a new hire at Eagle Jump at the start of the series, calls her "Shinoda-senpai," she insists that the formality isn't necessary, so Aoba switches to "Hajime-san." Aoba also starts out calling Hifumi "Takimoto-san," but switches to "Hifumi-senpai" after getting to know her.
    • After being introduced to Nene, Naru suggests that she'll have to call Nene "senpai," since while the two were hired at the same time, Nene had worked for Eagle Jump as a debugger. Umiko points out that Nene's still inexperienced, and the two decide not to acknowledge Nene's seniority. At the end of the series, a newcomer gets hired in the programming division, and Nene wants her to call her "Nenecchi-senpai," but Umiko bops Nene on the head and tells the new hire that "Sakura-san" will suffice.
  • Kagura and Ayase in Oku-sama wa Mahou Shoujo use these terms, even after Kagura has left the school.
  • One Piece features an unusual example, in that Bartolomeo addresses the Straw Hats as a whole as his senpais, despite him being older than most of the crew. In this case, the honorific denotes great respect, as Bartolomeo is a huge fan of the Straw Hats, whose actions and achievements inspired him to set out to sea.
  • In Oreimo, Kuroneko becomes Kyousuke's kouhai in their school after she transfers. The episodes after Kirino leaves for the US focus on how their relationship grows without Kirino.
  • In Ouran High School Host Club,:
    • Haruhi adds -sempai to her upperclassmen's names, or sometimes will just call them "sempai". Hikaru and Kaoru also use -sempai for their upperclassmen - except for Tamaki, whom they affectionately mock with the name "Tono" (meaning "lord") in reference to his sometimes archaic-sounding speech, like an old feudal lord. For a workplace example, Haruhi's mother Kotoko was the sempai of Kousaka Yuki, the Suou company's lawyer.
    • Haruhi's habit of calling Tamaki "sempai" distresses him a bit, particularly after their Relationship Upgrade since it hardly fits anymore. As shown in the extra chapters, she still calls him sempai years after they begin dating, and possibly even after they marry.
      Tamaki: "I'm not your sempai! I'm just an acquaintance."
  • In A Place Further than the Universe, Yuzuki, the only first-year of the main characters, feels obligated to show respect to the other three, who are second-years (or Hinata would be a second year if she hadn't quit school), so she addresses them as "-san," and when she's about to tell them to "shut up," quickly and awkwardly corrects herself to say "Please shut talking now." Of course, Yuzuki doesn't attend the same school as Kimari and Shirase.
  • Planetes has Hachirota's sempai to Ai Tanabe's kouhai.
  • Pokémon:
    • In the Pokémon anime, it isn't rare for gym leaders to teach a bunch of unexperienced boys and girls the art of Pokémon battling; but we find a unique example in the Olivine Gym, where Jasmine, the leader, only has one pupil, Janina. The latter is enthusiastic about connecting with her Onix so they can battle effectively, but completely misunderstands one of Jasmine's teachings: she thought Jasmine wanted her to eliminate Onix's weakness against water with wax, instead of talking with him so they could come up with proper defense strategies. When Jasmine notices this, she gets pretty angry, which stands out in comparison with her depressed state in the episode "Fight for the Light". Fortunately, Janina eventually understands what Jasmine was talking about and makes a strong connection with Onix to defeat Team Rocket. This appears to settle things between master and student.
    • A radio drama exclusive Team Rocket member named Mondo refers to the Terrible Trio as "Musashi-sempai", "Kojiro-sempai", and "Nyarth-sempai".
    • Candice is Zoey's sempai. The English dub translated this as Zoey referring to her as "Miss Senior".
  • Used repeatedly in The Prince of Tennis. Main Character Ryoma Echizen's a special case. He was born and raised in America, as such he's oblivious to this trope, as well as how he's making waves by becoming a starting player despite being a first-year. Later it's revealed he actually does know; he just doesn't care: at some point, second year student Takeshi Momoshiro tells Ryoma to treat him with the respect a senpai deserves. Seigaku's resident Insufferable Genius simply states he doesn't see a reason to do so just because Momoshiro's a year older than him.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
    • Mami is Madoka's and Sayaka's sempai, both in school, and as a Magical Girl, although they call her "Mami-san" rather than "senpai". She becomes motivated to protect them because of this.
    • One of the drama CDs included with the Japanese BD release reveals that Mami and Kyouko once had a similar relationship before the events of the series.
  • Tatewaki Kunou in Ranma ½ yells at Ranma and other junior students whenever they fail to address him as "senpai". Surprisingly, Ranma usually does, though he's often being sarcastic. Even in the English dub, Akane always refers to Kuno as "Upperclassman Kuno".
  • Reborn! (2004):
    • Skull constantly refers to the other Arcobaleno as his sempai. He is the youngest, after all.
    • Fran and the other Varia as well. Belphegor also once referred to Squalo as his sempai.
  • A Room For Two: Sakurako and Kasumi are the sempai to Shouko and Seri. One chapter shows an alternative reality in which Sakurako oversleeps on the day of the college entrance exam, resulting in her being admitted a year after Kasumi. Sakurako is depressed until she realizes she'll be Kasumi's kohai, and enjoys calling her "Kasumi-sempai."
  • Rurouni Kenshin:
    • Shishio refers to Kenshin, the government's previous manslayer as his sempai. Similarly to the YuYu Hakusho example, he's being kind of snarky about it, as Kenshin is kind of trying to stop his grand plans now. Since Kenshin has sworn to never kill again, it's also Shishio mockingly reminding Kenshin of his previous murders.
    • There's also an exchange (with Kenshin borderline channeling his dark Battousai personality) where Kenshin dismissively refers to Shishio as his kohai.
  • In Saki, this is a common mode of address for junior members of a school's mahjong club to senior members when they don't use titles like Club President or "Captain". Momo, in particular, seems to almost exclusively refer to her close friend Yumi as just "Senpai", with the occasional "Kajiki-senpai" to specify the person she's talking about.
    • Averted for the Achiga team in Saki Achiga-hen, since most of the team know each other fairly well. With the exception of Ako toward the Matsumi sisters, most of the younger girls call the older ones by their first name and "-san."
    • At Nodoka's old middle school, she and Yuuki were kouhai to Kirame Hanada, who eventually went to Shindouji. The two were senpai to Maho Yumeno and Hiroko Murohashi, two girls who will eventually join the Kiyosumi team.
  • Yuki from School-Live! has a pretty strong reaction to Miki referring to her as "sempai". Yuki is younger acting and younger looking than Miki.
  • In Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi, Masamune Takano (fomerly Masamune Saga) is the Sempai while Onodera Ritsu is the Kohai from when they were in high school and now work. Ritsu still calls Takano "Sempai" on occasion.
  • In Seven Days (2007), Yuzuru is Seryou's senpai. However, the relationship between them is fairly egalitarian.
  • Sgt. Frog: Tamama often refers to the older members as '-sempai'; the only one who doesn't get this treatment is his beloved Gunsou-san. Kururu also refers to Giroro as his sempai at times; in his case, however, this is more to antagonize by reminding him that the scientist is younger than him, yet Kururu outranks him.
  • Shirobako:
    • At the time Aoi "Oi-chan" Miyamori, Shizuka "Zuka-chan" Sakaki and Ema Yasuhara graduated from high school, Misa "Mii-chan" Toudou" was a second-year and Midori "Rii-chan" Imai was a first-year. The younger girls treat the older ones more like friends than sempais, appending "-sempai" to the older girls' nicknames, or first name in Ema's case; for example, they call Shizuka "Zuka-chan-sempai" rather than "Sakaki-sempai."
    • Tatsuya Ochiai leaves MusAni to take a job at a sempai's animation company, since his sempai mentions that his employer is in dire straits and needs the help.
  • In SHUFFLE!, Asa is Rin and Kaede's sempai, but tells Rin to stop calling her "Asa-sempai" when they start dating.
  • Rather frustrating to fans of the ship is the example from Skip Beat!. Kyouko and Ren, lead girl and lead guy respectively, have a sempai/kouhai relationship as Ren has been in show business longer than Kyouko has. It's also a romance series with the biggest Anchored Ships you've seen in a shoujo in a long time.
  • Soul Eater has an interesting example with Stein and Spirit. Back when they were students in the DWMA, Spirit was Stein's weapon and Stein usually referred to Spirit as "sempai." A flashback does show that Spirit appears to be the older of the two. The interesting matter comes from how it was probably this realationship why Spirit stuck by Stein for five years, despite Stein having a few screws loose. However, when Spirit learns that Stein has been operating on him (learning this from the woman who would become his future wife), Spirit leaves Stein and becomes her weapon (and she's the one who turns Spirit into a Death Scythe). They do patch things up when they are adults, though.
  • At the school where Strawberry Panic! is set, each new student is assigned a pair of sempais whose room she'll have to clean regularly. Nagisa and Tamao get Chiyo as room temp, and Hikari and Yaya get Tsubomi. Later, the temp Shizuma and Rokujou had a couple of years ago turns out to be important to the story.
  • In Stretch, Ran always addresses Keiko as "Senpai" or (very occasionally) "Keiko-Senpai".
  • In Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Hikaru calls Roy (who was a more senior pilot in Hikaru's family airshow) senpai. In Robotech, this is changed to Rick calling him "Big Brother," which is not quite the same.
    • The later ADV English dub keeps the original honorific, but since it's a character who's ethnically Japanese addressing another who spent several years working for a Japanese-owned aircraft company it comes off as a lot less awkward in English than most translations that retain honorifics. Besides which, by the time it came out "senpai" had basically achieved loanword status in the English speaking world anyway.
  • Sword Art Online:
    • Akihiko Kayaba, the creator of the eponymous game of death, was the sempai to Sugou, the Arc Villain of Fairy Dance. Sugou despises Kayaba, and goes berserk when Kayaba helps Kirito escape from a hopeless situation and turn the tables on Sugou.
    • In the Alicization arc, Kirito and Eugeo attend the North Centoria Imperial Sword Mastery Academy. As per the school tradition, the 12 Elite Swordsmen trainees can choose a student from a lesser grade as valet to receive guidance from them. Kirito becomes the valet of Sortiliena "Liena" Serlut, while Eugeo is chosen by Gorgolosso Balto, even using "-sempai" when adressing to them. They later become the sempai to their own valets, Ronye Arabel and Tieze Schtolienen, respectively.
  • Likewise, Milly refers to Meryl simply as "senpai" throughout Trigun, which is ironic considering Milly is almost as tall as Vash.
  • In A Tropical Fish Yearns for Snow, Koyuki Honami, a second-year at the start of the series, serves as the sempai to Konatsu Amano, a first-yearnote , since the two are the only members of the Aquarium Club. Later on in the series, Koyuki asks Konatsu to simply call her by name, rather than "Honami-sempai."
  • Souchi's sempai to Morinaga's kouhai in the university in The Tyrant Falls in Love.
  • The Useless Senpai and The Talented Kouhai plays with this. The main character, Shiori Ochiai, is a third-year at her school, but virtually everyone knows that she's terrible at basketball, resulting in some of her kouhai bullying her and sticking her with the chores(the sort of thing that underclassmen in athletic clubs would be tasked with). Meanwhile, Hiromi Tsukioka, the kouhai, not only is extremely talented, but ends up being something of a mentor to her senpai.
  • Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! has Hana Uzaki as the kouhai to Shinichi Sakurai as the sempai (she even addresses him exclusively that way). He's one year older than her and they've known each other since high school. Funnily enough, the manga chapters always have the word "Kouhai" in their titles.
  • Subverted in Venus Versus Virus. When Sumire began junior high she tried to begin calling high schooler Nene "Nene-sempai", but Nene got annoyed. She pointed out that they're cousins, calling her "Nene-chan" is just fine.
  • Souta Takanashi from Wagnaria!! only ever refers to Popura Taneshima as "Sempai"(she doesn't reciprocate); this might have something to do with her being Older Than She Looks.
  • In Waiting in the Summer, one of the mysteries of Remon is everyone addresses her as sempai, even some characters who appear significantly older. Apparently, she's been in High School for a long, long, time.
  • In Wandering Son, Chiba causes a scandal at her middle school when she treats two of her sempai poorly.
  • In the fifth episode of the anime for Welcome to the N.H.K., Satou refers to Hitomi exclusively as sempai during their meeting. At the end of it, Hitomi jokingly asks him if he still remembers her name.
  • When Will Ayumu Make His Move?: Gender-switched from the usual dynamic in this type of manga. Despite appearing much younger than Ayumu, Urushi is actually one grade above him. More importantly to the plot, she's also the far more experienced shogi player of the two.
  • In Yotsuba&!, Yanda is an old kohai of Koiwai's, and can get away with mooching off him for that reason. This only extends so far – when he picks on Yotsuba, Koiwai is obligated to pick on him in return.
  • In Your Name, Taki has a crush on his senpai at his part-time job, Miki, and Mitsuha uses their body-switching to try and set them up. It ultimately doesn't work out between them, since Taki and Mitsuha end up falling for each other instead.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: At the start of the second season, Juudai is thrilled to finally be one of the older students, especially during his first duel against Edo, who refers to Juudai as 'sempai'. A few episodes later, Edo's final words to Ryou in their Pro duel have him calling himself Ryou's sempai, since he's been in the Pro Leagues longer than Ryou has. After that, Edo switches to calling Juudai by his name instead of "sempai". Also, Kenzan continually refers to most of the older students with the sempai honorific (except for Juudai, who is his aniki).
  • Yakou Tenma is the kohai of Pegasus in Yu-Gi-Oh! R.
  • In YuYu Hakusho, Yusuke initially greets Sensui as "sempai," as he was the previous Spirit Detective, but he's being sarcastic, because Sensui is now attempting to destroy the world and commit genocide. (Sort of.) Later, when Yusuke meets Kuroko Sanada, the first Spirit Detective, who retired with a modicum of her sanity intact, he is incredibly respectful towards her, although he addresses her as "Kuroko-san," not "sempai." Either way, it's the most (conventionally...) respectful Yusuke is to anyone, ever.
  • Yuuutsu-kun to Succubus-san: A demon that occasionally pops in to visit Sakuma the succubus and depressed human Yuu's apartment is Sakuma's kouhai from school, Metasuke. She looks up to Sakuma and doesn't realize that Sakuma hasn't gone after any other men than Yuu, while she manages several a day despite encountering people like Yuu who are overworked/depressed to the point that they have no sex drive at all, like Yuu.

    Audio Play 
  • Atsushi from Yandere Heaven is the protagonist's senpai. It's never stated how he and the protagonist were introduced to one another, but their relationship grew to the point where Atsushi regularly offers her rides to school and the restaurant they both work at and the protagonist provides meals for him.

    Comic Books 
  • In My Employer Can Only Sleep if I Hug Her, which takes place in China, Xia Yu gets a job lead from her sempai at her temp job. She addresses the latter as "Xuezhang," which is the Mandarin equivalent of "sempai."

    Comic Strips 

  • Doing It Right This Time: Maya still refers to Ritsuko as "sempai" even after their Relationship Upgrade. Given they've shot way past Lover and Beloved and held an outright collaring ceremony it kind of makes sense.
  • In Girls und Panzer - International War Games, Edo gets kicked off the team because not only is his performance unacceptable, but he also got into a fight with Suzuki. Kenji notes that his offense is particularly bad because Suzuki is a girl and Edo's senpai.
  • A Growing Affection: Yugao sometimes refers to Kakashi as senpai(as in canon), which Naruto teases her for after he learns she and Kakashi are a couple. The Kouin sisters refer to Sasuke as 'kohai' and Kabuto as 'senpai'.
  • Much to Kyon's delight in Kyon: Big Damn Hero, Kanae addresses him as Sempai. Haruhi lampshades this extremely quickly. Kyon is also very protective of her, and treats her like his little sister.
    • As of Chapter 32, Kanae also refers to Haruhi as 'Suzumiya-sempai', which seems to provoke an interesting reaction...
  • From Chapter 3 and onwards in A Necromancer's Wild Card, a Persona 3 and Is This a Zombie? Crossover, Ayumu Aikawa usually addresses Minato Arisato as "Senpai" or "Minato-senpai", and Minato considers Ayumu a kouhai.
  • The cast of Where Talent Goes on Vacation are part of Talent High School's Class 32, meaning they are the sempai to Class 33 from Where Talent Goes to Die.
  • In Where Talent Goes to Die, Ami Yuuki, the Ultimate Cheerleader, was fairly close with Asuka Kisaragi, a third-year on her cheer squad. Yuuki saw Kisaragi as a role model, respecting and appreciating the older girl's down-to-earth nature, since she helped her kouhai without forcing them to do all the grunt work.
  • In the Saki doujin, I'll Fall in Love With You Again, Yumi, a third-year at the start of the story in canon, tells Momo, a first-year, that she shouldn't call Yumi "sempai" in public after Yumi graduates. Momo insists that Yumi will still be her sempai, at which point Yumi admits it's just an excuse to get Momo to call her by name. Momo complies and starts calling her "Yumi-san" instead but slips up and calls Yumi "Sempai" at the end of the doujin.
  • Similarly, in the KOn doujin, Ten Years Later, We’ve Started Living Together - YuiAzu, Yui and Azusa are living together as adults, and while they still call each other "Azu-nyan" and "Yui-sempai" in private, Azusa insists that Yui forgo the nickname in public, and offers to call her "Yui-san" in return. However, when Yui calls her "Azusa," Azusa finds her expression hilarious, and ends up slipping and calling her "Yui-sempai," so they drop the agreement.


  • In Michael Crichton's Rising Sun John Connor instructs Peter Smith that to the Japanese they will be interacting with, Connor will be sempai to Smith's kohai.

    Live Action TV 
  • At the beginning of Kamen Rider Ryuki Chief editor of Ore Journal Daisuke explicitly refers to Shinji as his Kohai, implying a past between the two.
  • Super Sentai:
    • Despite technically being the senior officer in Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger, Tetsu (DekaBreak) fondly refers to Red Ranger Ban as "sempai", mostly because Ban showed him a way to fulfill his duties with passion instead of the hardnosed indifference he was taught.
    • In the various Sentai team-ups, the members of the younger Sentai team tend to defer to the older, sempai team.
  • In Tomica Hero Rescue Force Hikaru commonly refers to Kyosuke, Rei and Juri as this until he found out that the teams Sixth Ranger was Da Chief he reffered to R5 as "Dai-Sempai".
    • Tomica Hero Rescue Fire has a similar example, Tatsuya refers to Hikaru and the rest of Rescue Force as "Sempai". As for the team itself, Tatsuya calls Yuuma his sempai, who is in turn seen as a sempai by Jun.
  • Invoked in 30 Rock. After the death of his mentor, GE CEO Don Geiss, Jack Doneghy tells Liz Lemon that Geiss used to call him kohai in private, while Jack reciprocated, calling him sempai. Although Jack won't admit it, he is very shaken by Geiss' death (or more accurately, preservation in carbonite), masking it by working himself up at the possibility that he'll inherit something from Geiss. He inherits Argus, Geiss' pet peacock. Long story short, Kenneth—who knows how to interpret peafowl calls—tells Jack that the bird had said, "sempai, kohai." Jack becomes convinced that Geiss' spirit had inhabited Argus, leading him to pour out to the bird. He ends up reconciled to Geiss'...Geiss'...what happened to Geiss.

  • Korean Pop Music and Japanese Pop Music Idol Singers have a seniority system even within their group. Most idol groups have a leader, who usually happens to either be the person who is the oldest in their group or the person who had trained with the company for the longest before the group's debut. Korean idols also emphasize the seniority by having a role called the "maknae", the youngest member in the group. The younger members usually have to run small errands and serve older members before serving themselves.

    Video Games 
  • Advanced V.G. II: Tamao joined the tournament to meet her role model, Yuka Takeuchi, to whom she refers as "Sempai" (switching to "Yuka-sempai", when speaking to her directly). In turn, Yuka refers to her as, "Tamao-chan" and looks after her as her new student. So they double as master and apprentice.
  • Fate/EXTRA CCC, the main villain, BB, refers to the player character as her sempai, despite this making no sense at all. If questioned on it, she replies that she just enjoys the persona of "cute kouhai" and calls the player that as part of her character. (Out of universe, it's mostly because she's a Sakura clone and Sakura always calls the player "Sempai".)
  • Mash Kyrielight of Fate/Grand Order refers to the player character as her senpai, even though the player just joined Chaldea which should give her seniority. Later, it's explained that she sees the player character as her senior in terms of "life experiences" since she's lived her entire life within the walls of Chaldea while they live the kind of average yet upright life she would like to live.
    • Yu Mei-ren, AKA Hinako Akuta - one of the original 48 Chaldea Masters, ends up gaining a place on the Throne and can be summoned by the player after she got killed fighting them in the third Lostbelt. While she resigns herself to the life of Servant-hood, she still rubs to the player's face that she's basically their sempai as a Chaldean.
  • In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Axel(member #8 of Organization XIII, meaning he's a relative newcomer) gives a hearty "Jaa na Sempai" to Vexen(who's one of the founding members) before he murders him in front of Sora. He's likely being snarky about it, though, because the other Organization members simply address their elders by name. Vexen(who's the fourth to join) tries to pull rank on Marluxia(who is the eleventh) by reminding him that he has seniority, but Marluxia retorts that he's in charge of Castle Oblivion, and Vexen answers to him.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, Towa and her group are the seniors who help out their juniors, Rean and Class VII, in their endeavors. In Cold Steel III, Juna considers the Special Support Section as her seniors while she and New Class VII consider the old Class VII their seniors (barring Rean who is their teacher instead). And finally in Cold Steel IV, Cassius Bright ends up becoming Rean's senior in terms of swordsmanship. Enough that on the night before the final battle at Mishelam Wonderland, Cassius ends up testing Rean to see if he's ready to become a Divine Blade.
  • In Megaman ZX Vent referred to Girouette as his sempai in the original Japanese dialogue. His female counterpart Aile, however, simply referred to him as his nickname Giro.
  • Nintendo has a couple of prominent Real Life examples, as a result of the company's Kyoto heritage leading to a push for master/apprentice dynamics within the company. Early on in the company's game-making career, Gunpei Yokoi, inventor of the Game & Watch and Game Boy as well as game series such as Metroid and Kid Icarus, was the senpai to a young up-and-coming programmer named Shigeru Miyamoto. When Miyamoto eventually became a big name in the company, he would become the senpai of another programmer, Satoshi Tajiri, the man who would create Pokémon.
  • Persona:
    • Persona 3
      • The two upperclassmen who are part of S.E.E.S. at the start of the game- Mitsuru and Akihiko- take their roles very seriously, and one of Akihiko's quotes when getting a critical hit or hitting an enemy weakness is, "I can't lose to an underclassman." Unfortunately, the sempai-kohai divide is part of the reasons why the older members of the party aren't as close with the younger members compared to subsequent installments.
      • Saori, the female protagonist's Hermit Social Link, is an odd case of this. While she's only a second-year, she took a two-year hiatus from school, so she's older than the third-years. Some of her yearmates end up being more polite to her than they would be to others, but Saori encourages the female protagonist to treat her like an equal, and the female protagonist uses yobisute in the few dialogue options that address Saori by name.
    • In Persona 4, Yosuke is surprised to find that the tough, rumored-to-be-in-a-biker-gang (he's not) Kanji is his kohai. Similarly, Chie's surprised when, in their first meeting at school, the usually rude and abrasive Kanji is quite polite to them, and he says it's because they're his sempais. If you romance Naoto and talk to her in the dungeon with Kanji present, Kanji misinterprets her embarrassment as rudeness and calls her out for acting that way toward their leader and sempai.
    • One of the big differences between Persona 3 and 4 is that in Persona 3, the main character trio are the underclassmen (although your main character gives orders in battle because he is the most skilled in the use of his Persona) and sempais Mitsuru and Akihiko are calling the shots (to the point where they won't allow you to do any missions if both are not present), but in Persona 4 the main character trio (and later Yukiko as well) are the sempais and are in charge of the entire Investigation Team with the later members as their underclassman. The only third-year with a name in Persona 4 is Saki, who's killed off early in the game.
    • Taken even further in Persona 4: Dancing All Night. The team decides to split up to find the missing idol singers, and the split is directly along the sempai/kohai line (Teddie, who briefly goes to school with the protagonist, is counted as a kohai). Members of the kohai team even talk about doing their best to impress the sempais. The members of Kanamin Kitchen also consider Rise a sempai, even though Rise's essentially their rival.
    • In Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, this is averted on a few occasions. When Rei and Zen join the group, since no one is able to conclusively determine how old they are, the others decide to treat them as first-years in high school, but neither of the two considers the others sempais. When the two groups learn that the Persona 3 team is actually from two years before the P4 group, making even the second-years older than anyone on the P4 group, Junpei is delighted to have girls calling him sempai, only for the girls to point out that while he's older than they are, since they don't go to the same school, he's not a sempai to them.
    • Persona 5:
      • The game actually mostly averts this with the Phantom Thieves. Third-years Makoto and Haru insist that their juniors simply call them by name, and (technically) first-year Futaba acts very informally towards her seniors. Akechi is a third-year, but goes to a different school from everyone else. Haru does once call Morgana "senpai," since he's a founding member of the Thieves. Kasumi Yoshizawa, a party member added in The Royal, is the only Phantom Thief in her first year of high school, and generally uses "Sempai" on the others (even Futaba, who's her age and on hiatus from school, and Yusuke, who goes to a different school). After joining the Phantom Thieves, she even uses "-sempai" on their code names.
      • Morgana refers to Nanami Shibuya, an older and more experienced coworker at Joker's convenience store job, as "Shibuya-senpai." Nanami herself gets a bit embarrassed when showing Joker the ropes, worried that she was trying to seem like "a big-shot senpai."
      • Ryuji calls Ikeda, his former sempai from the track team and the only teammate with whom he's on speaking terms, "senpai", but Ikeda insists that it isn't necessary.
  • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky, Bidoof is delighted when your team joins the guild, since his seniority makes him your sempai, despite his own inexperience. One of Sky's Special Episodes reveals he even wished for a buddy or two to help mentor.
  • One Double Battle trainer class seen in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire is a pair of schoolgirls literally called "Sempai and Kohai" (translated as "Sr. and Jr." in the original games and "Teammates" in the remakes). The sempai is overly concerned with being a role model to the kohai and the kohai is overly concerned with impressing the sempai.
  • In Puyo Puyo, Lemres and Feli come from a different school than the other Fever-era characters. Lemres is the upperclassman to Feli, who has such a massive crush on him that she is fully convinced they're destined to be together.
  • In the Japanese version of Sonic Adventure, Eggman describes his previous robot models to Gamma as them being his sempais. In the English dub, this is translated as them being his older brothers.
  • The Japanese version of Splatoon 2 has Iida (Marina) regularly refer to Hime (Pearl) as "sempai" due to the latter both being older than Marina and having more experience in the music business. Other versions of the game didn't touch upon this aspect of their friendship until the Octo Expansion DLC campaign, where Marina and Pearl talk about how they first met and how the latter was instrumental in Marina getting used to life in Inkling society.
  • Tokyo Xanadu has Kou, Asuka, and Rion as Second Year Protagonists, with Sora and Yuuki as their kohai and Mitsuki and Shio as their sempai. Before Rion was announced, the party would've consisted of 1 male and 1 female in each year.
  • Valkyria Chronicles 4: Tank driver Miles addresses our protagonist Claude as "sempai" in the R&D facility if you turn on the Japanese voices, and his personnel file says "Claude was his senior in the military academy."
  • Yandere Simulator is all about trying to win the affections of your character's senpai, a task that is accomplished by disposing of any and all romantic competition by any means necessary.

    Visual Novels 
  • Yasumi and Shouko in Aoi Shiro. Yasumi joined the kendo club as manager because she thought Shouko looked so cool doing a demonstration at the beginning of the school year, and she consistently calls her 'Shouko-sempai' through the game. Though in this case, while she tries to take care of her, Shouko also has a great deal of respect for Yasumi and often shows how impressed she is by her dedication.
  • In the demo version of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, Makoto and Hajime, the protagonists of the previous two games, introduce themselves to Kaede as her sempai. As such, Kaede ends up being a bit more polite to them than she would otherwise be, although Makoto insists that it isn't necessary.
  • Fate/stay night:
    • Shirou is Sakura's sempai. He takes this responsibility seriously, and it makes him feel a bit awkward about being attracted to her. Rin is also her sempai, and that's unfortunate — it's one more edge that Sakura's sister has over her, one more reason to be bitter.
    • Much like Shiki with Ciel, Sakura always refers to Shirou as "Sempai" (even when in the presense of other people who are also her Sempais, like Rin). Even in the HF True epilogue, where they've been in a relationship for several years and he's no longer even her Sempai, she still uses it (and Taiga calls her out on it).
  • The English translation for Hatoful Boyfriend leaves this out, but it can be seen elsewhere, including in the translations of the manga. Upperclassman Sakazaki Yuuya is called Sempai by many. We see in the games that he is indeed protective and good to his kohais.
  • Kindred Spirits on the Roof has more than a few of these relationships.
    • The first couple introduced is Seina Maki, a first-year, and Miki Aihara, a third-year. Maki admires Miki, and asks her out, although the two start as friends. Eventually, Maki switches from calling the latter "Aihara-senpai" to "Miki-san" at the latter's request.
    • Hina has a close relationship with the captain and vice-captain of the track team, both of whom are third-years. The two of them give her advice on how to improve as a runner and where her strengths lie. She's also considered the kohai to Yuna(the protagonist and her Childhood Friend) and her and Yuna's mutual friend Ano, but is close enough with them that she doesn't treat either one as a senpai- she calls Yuna "Yuna-nee" and uses "-chan" on Ano.
    • In a relatively early scene, Megumi, the younger of the "kindred spirits" gets annoyed when Yuna addresses her by her first name without honorifics, and says that since she died 30 years ago, she's Yuna's senpai in life. Yuna counters by saying that Megumi doesn't act like she's 30 years older than Yuna, not to mention Megumi died as a first-year, whereas Yuna's a second-year. Megumi's somewhat more respectful toward her girlfriend and fellow ghost Sachi, who died 80 years ago as a third-year, although she calls her "Sachi-san" rather than "senpai."
  • From the Girls' Love Visual Novel Sono Hanabira Ni Kuchizuke Wo, we have Yuuna as sempai and Nanami as kohai as part of a lesbian pairing. Kaede and Sara are also sempai and kohai but it isn't emphasized as much.
  • The Tokimeki Memorial series, being a High School romance Dating Sim series, obviously loves this trope. Every flagship game of the series (save for Tokimeki Memorial 3) had a Kohai as a winnable Love Interest, and several side games introduced other non-winnable Kohai. However, winnable sempai weren't introduced until late in the series, the first one appearing in Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side 2.
  • In Tsukihime, Shiki calls Ciel "Sempai" almost exclusively, even in his narration. Arihiko does the same. One point where you notice this is the first scene after Ciel wipes the school's memory of her; when Shiki asks Arihiko about her, he doesn't say "Who's that?", he says "Which sempai?"

    Web Original 
  • hololive:
    • One certainty within the group is that Tokino Sora is the ultimate senpai. After that, aside from calling each other with the appropriate honorifics (with a few exceptions, like with Suisei), the idols are close enough friends and peers that they are not particularly strict with the usual senpai-kohai dynamic and will sometimes dispense it entirely.
    • One only needs to take a look at debut order to figure out each person's place as a senpai or kohai, but three people in Gen 0 confound this dynamic a little bit:
      • Miko debuted right before Gen 2 heading the Sakura Miko Project, which was separate from Hololive as a whole and she only joined the group in December 2018, just a bit before Mio's debut. This puts her either before or after Gen 2 and Mio depending on how one looks at it, but the subject of seniority has never been an issue for her.
      • Suisei debuted as an independent shortly after Roboco and before Gen 1, joined INNK music right before GAMERS was established when Korone and Okayu joined, and became part of Hololive proper between Gen 3 and 4, so what to call her changes depending on the metric used. She discussed this with Aqua a few times and they never came to a definitive conclusion.
      • AZKi was under INoNaKa Music from her debut in November 2018 until the end of its planned lifespan in March 2022, after which she was moved into the main Hololive group. She has joked about becoming the most junior of the group in her first stream since the shift, but no one actually intends to treat her as such.
  • PewDiePie has "Notice me, senpai!" as something of a Catchphrase.
  • When Steely Dan is blackmailing Jotaro during the Lovers mini-arc in Vaguely Recalling JoJo, he forces him to be his sempai and calls him Kabaji.
  • Jade from the Whateley Universe refers to her friends, particularly her roommate Tennyo, as 'senpai', and tends towards this kind of attitude.

Alternative Title(s): Sempai Kouhai, Senpai Kouhai, Sempai Kohai