This exclamation can be found in a variety of anime, but it is most prominent in the series Rurouni Kenshin, wherein the main character utters it an average of three hundred times per episode. (severe exaggeration)

As near as I can tell, it is intended as a sort of exclamation of surprise/confusion/puzzlement/pain similar to "Err?" "Nyer?" or "Arrouu?" in our own dear english. (I realize these examples may be specific to my own social group/demographic, but you get the idea.)

When asked, my Japanese prof insists that it is not actually a word, which makes me wonder if she's just trying to prevent my impressionable young mind from learning slang terms. Any ideas, anyone?
It's a slight alteration on the japanese exclamation "ara", which confers to "oh?" or "ah?"

Most cases, such as on the Rurouni Kenshin TV DVDs, it's left untranslated since, and your professor is right, it is just a sound, easily understood in that context as just an outburst exclamation.

This, of course, is coming not from my personal knowlege, but after having read the liner notes on the first DVD of the Rurouni Kenshin TV Series.

NB: Kenshin's "oro" is written only in katakana, to distiguish it from the phrase "oro":

悪露 (oro)
lochia, post-natal vaginal discharge

The kanji, incidentally, mean "evil" and "dew," respectively


ORO is a regular expression/text processing API for Java. It is an open source project licensed under the Apache Software Foundation. ORO provides Perl 5 and awk regular expression functionality and well as other text processing tools.

Daniel F. Savarese and Jon S. Stevens are primarily responsible for writing the code.

At the time of this writing, ORO is at version 2.0.5.

Personally, I find ORO in a great way of converting Perl programmers over to Java.

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