Words Usually Mean Things. This Is Less Debatable Than You Think.

[Trigger warnings: rape, rape culture]

Among the controversies du jour is one troublesome line from the recently-aired Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun. The original line, 「動くな。騒ぐと犯す」, was rendered in Crunchyroll’s translation as “No funny moves. Make one peep and I rape you.” If, in fact, that is what he said, this is a very shocking line indeed. But here’s the thing.

That is what he said.

This is not open for interpretation.

The primary male love interest in Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun threatened the protagonist with sexual violence.

The average anime fan with a dog in this fight tends to vastly over-rate either their Japanese literacy, their understanding of how language works, or both, so I’ll take this from the very top.

Words are small units of meaning that we string together into phrases and sentences and such to encode the ephemeral ideas we have in our head into a format that can be communicated to other people. Generally speaking, there are two “kinds” of words: function words and content words. The former, function words, are the mostly-meaningless words that we use to explain how other words interact—”the”, “from”, “and”, etc. Those aren’t really relevant here. The other kind, content words, are the sounds we map on to actual things to refer to those things. Rock. Yellow. Twelve.

Rape.

What’s tricky, though, is that content words aren’t always exactly cut and dried. Other than proper nouns, they usually refer to sets of things, and people don’t always agree on the exact contents of those sets. The border between things a word does describe and things it doesn’t describe isn’t a sharp line, it’s more of a gradient. Just ask any two anime fans what moe means.

Moreover, the words we say are not the sum total of our communication. Outside of semantics, i.e. the meaning of words, is pragmatics, i.e. the meaning of context. As much as what we say communicates meaning, what we don’t say, what we do, how we act, what has already been said and a million other factors all contribute to the meaning imparted to listeners. This can sometimes make it tricky to interpret what exactly a given utterance was intended to mean, even if the speaker and hearer are speaking the same language.

Naturally, this is even trickier when translating between languages, because different languages sort things into semantic groups differently. People even process color completely differently depending on what language they are speaking. Translation is a delicate art because precious few words are in perfect 1:1 correspondence between languages—common words’ semantic fields tend to overlap quite a bit, but rarely is the overlap exactly perfect.

This is why it is possible to get translations “wrong”. Without a nuanced understanding of the social and linguistic context in which something is said, it’s easy for an unskilled translator to fall afoul of unspoken pragmatic rules and nuance in the language they’re less familiar with. And, conversely, it’s easy for an unskilled student of language to fall afoul of nuance when criticizing the works of a competent translator—as happened last season with the controversy over a similar line in Kokoro Connect.

That is, in brief, how words work. So, rape.

The line spoken by Haru in Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun is 「動くな。騒ぐと犯す」. Let’s break down the structure of this utterance to sort out what it “really means”.

There are actually two main clauses here; the first, ugoku na , is simple enough: the verb “to move”, with a negative imperative ending. “Don’t move.” The second is a bit more complex: sawagu to okasu is a pair of plain-form verbs connected by a function word with an approximate meaning of “and”. Here, it implies that one action will result in another. The former is sawagu, which means “to make noise”; the latter is okasu, which is the apparent sticking point for so many people.

Okasu is, in fact, a word with a fairly broad and complex semantic map. According to Jisho above, there are at least three well-known kanji used to write the word, and each is given a very slightly different dictionary definition. This means there’s room for ambiguity, right? This one word means so many things, why does it have to mean rape?

Well, first and foremost, many of these meanings aren’t relevant to this grammatical construction at all. Sawagu to okasu is contextually very clear about the agent and patient of each action. Who is sawagu-ing? Shizuku is. Who is okasu-ing? Haru is. Who is being okasu-d? Shizuku is. Which means that okasu definitely does not mean “to assume” as in a surname,  “to commit” as in a crime, or “to perpetrate”. Quite a few possible meanings of the word, in fact, do not make any grammatical sense in this context.

More important, though, is that even though a given word can mean many different things, those meanings are not completely disassociated. Consider that you are cornered in a dark alley by a complete stranger who declares that he is going to kill you. Are you struck by the confusing polysemy of the word? Are you worried that, rather than “causing your death”, he is going to “muffle” you, “defeat” you, cause you to feel “a smarting pain, as from a minor accident”? It’s doubtful. Given the existing context, it is not at all strange of you to expect, and prepare to deal with, the worst.

When Shizuku, upon being grabbed by a man she cannot see and pulled into a dark alley is told not to make noise or he will okasu her, the meaning communicated is very clear. As a rational human being with a native grasp of the Japanese language, sexual assault is almost certainly the first thing on her mind. And for all his naïveté, Haru is also fluent in Japanese. The most one could argue is that Haru’s neural development is impaired to such a degree that he does not understand the sexual nature of the threat he’s making—but at any rate, the utterance itself is a real and tangible threat.

And regardless, to Shizuku and any outside observer, even if Haru is somehow unaware of it, he has threatened Shizuku with sexual assault. However far down the rabbit hole of character psychology you go, “rape” is in this case an entirely accurate rendering of okasuno matter how you slice it.

46 Comments

Filed under Editorials, Meta, Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun

46 responses to “Words Usually Mean Things. This Is Less Debatable Than You Think.

  1. mefloraine

    Beautiful.

  2. fencedude

    Bravo. Bravo.

  3. The line was distasteful, yes. I just think people have blown it out of proportion. I found the rest of the episode pretty funny and charming if a bit cliche, but now every single scene is “promoting rape culture,” and “morally wrong.” If that one scene was taken away, I can almost guarantee that nobody would find a problem with this show.

    • fencedude

      What that line does is fly out, smack you in the face, and make it impossible to not see the other issues with the show.

    • dm00

      I don’t think it’s just that line, but a lot of Haru’s behavior toward Shizuku. That one scene is the capstone (and really, it doesn’t matter that much what he said, his actions were threatening enough).
      It’s true that removing that one scene would cut down a good deal on the complaints.

    • 8C

      Fencedude and dm00 have pointed out the way the line becomes increasingly problematic in the context of the rest of the show, so I won’t go into that.

      The more specific point I’d like to make is that the genesis of this post was, in fact, concerned not much at all with the correct reaction to this line, but with a significant train of thought I observed in which people were disputing that the line does in fact exist. This isn’t just about rape apologism in Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, it’s about rape culture apologism and sidelining tactics in the entire anishape’s discourse on works of this sort.

      It’s also a hopeful (if naïve) effort on my part to close the book on this entire rhetorical device, in which the understanding that language is weird becomes a deflective tactic and an excuse not to care about how language actually works.

      I’m pleased as Punch if we want to go from there into a feminist interpretation, but for the record my point was just to catch everyone up to reality.

      • I’d like to apologize for going off topic from the original post. I just wanted to reinforce that idea that there are those who don’t ignore the line, but who can still enjoy the show.

      • dm00

        It’s a good idea to get “Maybe it’s a bad translation” off the table (at least in this instance). Thanks for that.

  4. Sometimes I reflect on the fact that many people have more problems with the sentence “Don’t move or I’ll RAPE you!” than with the sentence “Don’t move or I’ll KILL you!”.

    I think we can all agree that murder is a worse offense than rape, yet many people are more sensitive to the threat of sexual assualt. Why is that?

    Haru is portraied as a naive, aggressive, yet ultimately innocent guy. I am sure he would never commit rape. He probably didn’t realize the gravity of what he said.
    I am sad to see that some people are so obtuse that they are going to drop the anime for a single – though certainly distasteful – sentence.

      • And because, as a woman, I’d like to add that rape is often or at least for a long period a death of the soul of the woman. Men who’ve been brought up in a world where physical /and/ mental threats of their well-being are rare can’t grasp easily what it is to continue living after such a traumatic experience. When you are dead, you don’t feel anything. When you are raped and you go on living, you have to deal with the ‘second’ rape at the police station, your ruined social image and future prospect especially in close-minded societies. You can’t bet you’ll find kindness and understanding people to depend on to overcome your hurt feelings…

        • 8C

          Thank you for commenting. This is (apparently) a part of the conversation that’s easy for people to forget, and one I certainly don’t have any authority to speak on.

        • Asif

          “Men who’ve been brought up in a world where physical /and/ mental threats of their well-being are rare”

          Hardly. It’s the norm. Which is why some of us males don’t or won’t get it, or do and don’t care to the extent that the line in the episode does..

          This part of your statement I find absurd and a continuation of women as the only victim in a patriarchal society. Every guy that gets beat up in front of others and goes back to school or their place of work the loser knows physical and mental threats, usually for years as a story that is used against them.

          Men have to get over it over and voer again. Not saying women should get over rape, but I am saying men encounter what they do so often, it’s part of their social environment–this is why you see in the anime episode all sorts of other problematic behavior by people other than Haru that aren’t being discussed, because it’s standard faire. It probably didn’t even register to most people. (I would even think male on male physical abuse and male/female on male mental abuse is more contributory to actual rapes than mere lines from a fictionalized story that is more a valve releasing than actually contributing to actual rapes and rape culture.)

          • I didn’t imply that boys and men don’t get their own share of problems caused by the patriarchy. Also, I usually don’t like ‘victimizing’ myself. I can respect the fact that boys being bullied suffer as well. But let’s stop comparing cause this is absurd. Do you know what it is to be brought up listening to your parents calling you or other women slut just because you want to have sex before marriage like men do? Do you realise that not only we learn from an early age that we are weak and we practically can’t love our bodies as they are but also that we won’t amount to anything if we lose our virginity? Yes, even nowadays there are such families. If we are ‘used’, we are disposable. We are brought up with fear and disrespect to our ourselves. So, yes, having rape being made fun is very hurtful and insulting. I’ll just add one more thing, if you still don’t understand. ‘Making fuss’ over this one line doesn’t mean that we aren’t against any other form of violence.

            P.S.: I don’t know anywhere in the world where someone is supposed to get married to his/her killer. I know, though, countries where women get raped and in order to get away with prison, they have to marry their raper.

    • This was going to be the point I would bring up. We can say with a good degree of probability that Haru knows that rape is wrong, and the threat of rape is just as wrong. I think he was making an empty threat in this instance. The context of the scene is just as important as the phrase itself. I acknowledge that a similar scene can occur in real life, but in this case we are privileged to be audience members; we get far more information on the characters and the context of the situation that the character themselves might.

      Notice how in the next transition he basically lost interest in his empty threat and now wants to show of his newest find to his newest friend. This is not an excuse of his behavior in any way, that he cannot fathom that the empty threat is just as inexcusable as the actual one is key to the scene.

      On another anisphere blog I have called this show a dance of asocial tendencies, both in Haru and in Shizuku.

      • The fact that he just casually throws it out there, and then its disregarded like its nothing is precisely why this is an issue to begin with

        • I can only speak for myself, but I did not disregard his empty threat at all. I held it in the regard that it deserves. It’s a serious thing, but the context is just as important. Believe you me, I’m keeping an eye on the character.

        • Heron

          Yes, and it says more than just something about Haru. Haru frivolously threatens Shinzuku, a girl he considers his friend, with rape. This means he sees it as frivolous or commonplace. At the same time it’s a threat, and a threat is always something the threatener considers terrible enough to elicit immediate compliance. So Haru has grown up in a society that taught him 1)that rape is a common aspect of male-female relationships, and 2) that fear and force are acceptable tools for males negotiating relationships with females. That doesn’t paint a terribly rosy picture of the moral environment he’s grown up in.

          • 8C

            That’s correct! Or, to be a bit more realistic, Haru was written by an author who grew up in a society that taught them those things. This is what we’re talking about when we talk about rape culture.

    • At the risk of being controversial (I hope not)… I’m going to take a pretty literal approach here. 8C is quite capable of fielding the issues around rape culture. Additionally though, I think the fact that ‘rape’ was used here in place of ‘kill’ is extra disrespectful because IT MAKES LESS SENSE. I mean, I haven’t seen the scene, but the context seems to suggest he wants her to not draw attention to them. Killing her, though unreasonably extreme, could be interpreted as a way to silence her (for good!) and avoid the problem.

      Raping her, though? Raping her is not subtle. She is unlikely to be quiet. It’s not quick or a final solution. Taken literally it doesn’t even work as hyperbole, it’s just an awful, awful thing to say.If he’d said kill, I could have assumed he was just being dramatic.

  5. Yep, there’s no mistranslation here at all. But it does fit Haru’s character and while making rape jokes/threats is nowhere excusable/justifiable, it kinda fits in Haru’s character. I think the part where I can defend Tonari is the accusation that such line is showing that Tonari promotes the culture of Rape=Sexy which it most definitely isn’t (though creepily enough, there are people who did went kyaa in those certain scenes). It’s more of the fault on the character himself (he is a very faulty character after all) ratehr than the overall show itself. Haru’s just indifferent in terms on how to treat males and females.

    • 8C

      The thing about reading authorial intent into works of fiction is it tends to help if you can support your claims with evidence.

      For example, I might point to the numerous other times Haru threatens Shizuku with both physical and sexual assault, with vastly underwhelming reactions from both Shizuku and the script.

      Or to the “romantic” kiss at the end of the show, which Haru also does without concern for consent, and how the script, directing and Shizuku’s reaction all imply that it’s adorable and sweet.

      The text is the text. If you want to say that it’s doing something, you should be able to show that it’s doing that thing.

      • Heron

        I think what ahelo is getting at is that Haru is an extreme character. When he doesn’t like something he hits it; when he’s uncomfortable with a situation he jumps out a window; when he’s happy about something he dances around and marches about with his chest puffed out; when he doesn’t trust his teachers he risks expulsion and civil penalties by not coming to school; when he wants a girl he’s decided is his “friend” to be quiet he threatens her with the worst thing he can think of in that moment. Haru’s behavior as we see it in this first episode is always maximal, immediate, and without lasting emotional content or concern for consequence. What makes this more problematic is that the show presents it as charming or maybe even weirdly moral in a “hold no grudges, live in the moment” way, instead of frightening and borderline psychotic, which is what it would be in real life.

        The question of reactions is an important one. The only non-background witness to Haru’s most extreme behavior is Shizuku, and she tends to react either with mortification, as if all he’s doing is exhibiting bad manners, or disinterest, as if what he’s done isn’t really that big of a deal. The question is, is that how the author sees it, and I don’t think we can be sure with just this episode. The reason I say that is because the author makes a point of bringing up Shizuku’s alienation and generally unemotional personality(when she tears up talking to the boys using Haru for money she’s shaking, red-faced, and stuttering; signifiers just as common to social anxiety as sympathetic anger). Moreover, while Shizuku may not have an extreme reaction to Haru’s behavior, the background characters and authority figures certainly do; his teacher won’t even talk to him for more than 2 minutes she’s so afraid of him. I think, at this juncture, it’s still possible that the author isn’t saying “Haru is charming” but rather “these are two differently asocial teens in a potentially unhealthy relationship”.

        That doesn’t make all the other problematic stuff -like Haru’s disregard for consent, and the obvious gender messaging of having him effortlessly out-perform Shizuku academically, and Shizuku’s easy acquiesce to Haru’s desires- go away. Even aside from the question of whether the show condones Haru’s behavior or celebrates violence against women, the first ep still includes some rather objectionable material.

  6. Pingback: Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun at a Glance/Stop Putting Rape Culture in All My Shoujo, Assholes | GAR GAR Stegosaurus

  7. I don’t see why it should be translated as anything except rape because it is so important to Haru’s characterization. Haru is portrayed as socially inept, and very innocent and naive at times, but including this makes a hard point that socially inept is not unilaterally equatable to naive, innocent, shy. He is violent as well, and his threat of rape (whether made seriously or not, probably the latter) just goes to show how socially distant he is.

    TL;DR, nothing to do with promoting rape, everything to do with characterization/character development

    • 8C

      Oh, good. Well that’s settled then.

      I sure am glad we aren’t having this conversation in a media culture that’s already overfull of depictions of men threatening women with rape with little to no consequences. Because if we were, it might be hard to swallow giving a low-brow romance title so much benefit of the doubt.

      I’m very glad that this isn’t the case.

  8. thesaurusdot com says some replacement words (synonyms) for physically injured include aching, aggrieved, agonized, all torn up, battered, bleeding, bruised, buffeted, burned, busted up, contused, crushed, cut, damaged, disfigured, distressed, disturbed, grazed, harmed, hit, impaired, in pain, indignant, lacerated, marred, mauled, miffed, mutilated, nicked, offended, pained, piqued, put away, resentful, rueful, sad, scarred, scraped, scratched, shook, shot, sore, stricken, struck, suffering, tender, tortured, umbrageous, unhappy, warped, wounded. So you want another word for “mutilate”. Here you go–I will put you away.I will graze you. I will pique you.Unfortunately people do sometimes look up “replacement ” words this way. Once for a book (real, published, biography) I needed a better word for “strip of woodlands or untended land ” to describe the vacant three lots we called “the woods behind the Lucky Store.”Among other words the online dictionaries gave me copse and wold, with definitions—I chose wold. I then looked it up on a visual theaurus. it showed that it was open rural land especially upland and whenever I tried to move it into urban it skittered away saying “wold is a type of rural area. A rural area is an area outside of cities and towns.” When I added weald it grew into a big map of many words connected by spines to “rural area”. Wold was a tract of open, rolling country–weald was an area of open or forested country..There were no divisions between boondocks,back country, backwoods, and hinterlands, but scrublands was another type of land, Grazing land, lea, ley, and pasture.were fields covered by grass or herbage suitable for grazing by livestock. Weald and wold were types, like back country and hinterland were a type, but weald and wold were the only members of their types of land–open and rolling uplands or open or forested country. My woods was urban. Only “woodsy vacant lot ” would do. But the original writer of this episode series what-have-we could have begun this by reaching for a synonym,and not knowing himself there was a difference,Unbelievable but possible-I speak English and my family was there from at least 1000 to 1622 when it came here. Maybe he has an editor– one once ran a spell-checker on mine and didn’t pay attention. .He/she was verifying what he thought I meant in saying that my subject’s mule was named “Baleem.” My spell-checker–, so I’m sure his,– gave “balsam” as first choice of what writer probably meant when someone right-clicked baleem after it flagged it..He had to then capitalize it and in that action alone proved he was aware he was changing a proper noun, or name. Writer goes to the trouble of showing not telling that Mama was ultra-religious by naming her mule after a Biblical one; editor takes that distraction away. The rest of the 200-page book was perfect; how childish could I afford to get?.I did, though, pushing print date back for weeks, and I would over a wrong “rape” too–so have to figure it was what Haru said, but he just meant harm–rape harms–female parts–not an act that would make him naked and vulnerable and take up what looks to be very little time to be wasted here. Rape to Haru probably includes savaging sexual anatomy with a knife,something that would take 10 seconds
    ..

  9. Thanks for this. There’s a legitimate debate going on, and some people seem to have really had their opinions informed. Some can’t be moved to imagine there might be an issue, some make the traditional apologies and excuses… which, whatever, but this whole side debate of what Haru may or may not have said just muddies the discourse. So it’s nice to have something to point to.

    • 8C

      Thanks. It’s an issue I see come up all the time, and it takes a lot more time to clean up than it took to get all over everything in the first place.

  10. omo

    This is pretty cool. I mean it in the sense that as an issue, it seems pretty much the “reality” of the situation and probably not worth addressing. But by writing a post about it you can attract all these unreal responses and it’s kind of humorous to read them.

  11. Excellent post. Thank you.

    It’s interesting to see the apologetic reactions scenes like this get. Not just the semantic parsing of trying to mitigate the words the character spoke, but also to write it all off as somehow not troubling.

    Hearing “It’s all part of his character!” as a defense is somewhat off putting when that statement isn’t immediately followed by “and that’s why I hope she’s able to get the f*^k away from him forever as quickly as possible!” Ok, he’s a troubled kid who doesn’t understand social interaction or appropriate behavior; that doesn’t make the threat of rape somehow less troubling. If he really is so clueless that he thinks that’s an appropriate way to deal with someone, then the show should no longer be about how he goes about getting a girlfriend, but how he goes about getting some serious psychological counseling before he hurts someone or is himself hurt when he says or does something similar to the wrong person.

    I have to wonder, if he had said “keep quiet or I’ll slit your throat/murder your dog/beat you unconscious/et al.” would people be so quick to argue about what he REALLY meant, or to wave it all away as part of the character’s quirky charm?

    • Both of these characters strike me as damaged goods. It makes the proceedings that much more important in context.

      • 8C

        The context is a script in which consent and women’s agency are regularly treated as trivial and unimportant.

        The context is a genre in which consent and women’s agency are regularly treated as trivial and unimportant.

        The context is a global media culture in which consent and women’s agency are regularly treated as trivial and unimportant.

        That’s the “context” this scene happened in.

    • 8C

      Thanks for commenting!

      It’s worrying, isn’t it? Especially in light of how the show itself very clearly endorses the way their relationship plays out. There’s close to zero good reason to read this as some deep-cover satire of gender relations, but if that’s the only argument a rape apologist can make, they’ll make it. And when that fails, it’s right on to disputing character and authorial intent. There’s always room to move the goalposts a little further…

      As far as the nature of the threat, I don’t know if the reaction would be any healthier if it had been violent. Recall that the null hypothesis I’m refuting here is that “maybe he’s only threatening to beat her up”—as if that, by contrast, would be perfectly fine.

    • Heron

      “I have to wonder, if he had said “keep quiet or I’ll slit your throat/murder your dog/beat you unconscious/et al.” would people be so quick to argue about what he REALLY meant, or to wave it all away as part of the character’s quirky charm?”

      If he’d said something like that, I think most people would have immediately accepted it as an entirely insincere statement. When does anyone in any media ever threaten someone with stuff like that and mean it? Only villains who will be dead within the next 22 minutes to 2 hours, and Haru’s obviously one of the leads. That this is how a savvy media consumer would react to such a statement obviously says some rather unflattering things about our culture.

      I’m not condoning his threat of rape mind you, or saying that having him threaten that instead of what you suggest was in anyway a “good” decision on the author’s part, or that Haru’s “charming” for doing it. I’m just saying I doubt the reaction would be more uniformly negative if Haru had threatened those things.

  12. Michael Johnson

    I will be your devil’s advocate for today. This show was jarring for me as well. But, i am someone who feels we go to far jumping on anything that is not 110% pro woman.
    I have watched some of the -gatari shows as they were widely praised in the anime blogosphere as awesome. My first reaction would be stylish in the extreme. My second reaction was ‘wow the main male character is physically and verbally abused by virtually all of the female characters.’

    I have heard bajillions of bloggers rave about these shows but not once have i heard a blogger express concerns that it is a show that is abusive of men. A female poster here talked about how bad rape is for a woman; I think it would be the same for a man, and men are raped only slightly fewer times per year than women in the USA.

    I feel the feminist community goes to far on many issues to PC sanitize everything. But, having said all this i will not be watching this otherwise fairly awesome show because these lines were extremely distasteful.

    • the_patches

      SO… Let’s start with the CDC study that indicated lifetime victimization for Men was under half that as for women (http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/nisvs/) and move on from there.

      Given the imbalance of the victimization in favor of women, it’s fair to say that rape is a gendered crime. The threat of rape is much weightier in the direction of women both because its higher incidence (44% lifetime victimization is kind of nuts, buddy!) and because of the way social pressures surrounding women make the crime itself more damaging socially and psychologically (it’s lovely how women who are victims of sexual assault become disgusting sluts for being attacked, isn’t it?). In this environment, it’s pretty fair to talk a great deal about how rape affects women in particular.

      So what does that mean for Tonari no Kaibutsu. Well, so many things. Let’s see if I can condense.

      What makes this show stick out as a particularly good teachable moment to talk about rape culture is two-fold. First, the fact that more than 50% of rapes are committed by partners or former partners and ~26% are actually committed INSIDE OF relationships. Given that this show traces the arc of a relationship, talking about how important consent is between significant others seems like a reasonable discussion. The show sort of throws the rape comment out as silly, when consent problems between partners is a very real issue.

      Secondly, the quickness of the bloggosphere to jump to Haru’s defense as “uncultured” as an excuse points to a further issue of rape culture, which is that it works to place the blame on the victim AND stifle zir concerns. Shizuka SHOULD feel she can have nothing to do with him based on his behavior. Regardless of his social ineptitude, if he’s doing things that make her uncomfortable she should not be made to get him to come to school and permit him to hang about. She’s entitled to feel safe and to do whatever makes her feel safe. Thing is, the OTP-ness of the episode encourages the audience to forgive Haru’s frankly frightening behavior. And that’s not okay.

      But what about Bake and Nise? Well, that’s a little more subtle. First off, the violence wasn’t terribly sexualized in Bake/Nise (remember how we started with rape and sexual assault are gendered. And that’s the kind of violence threatened in Tonari), so it doesn’t map equally. Furthermore, it’s hard to paint the nosy and overly-helpful Araragi as a victim. Most of the pain he gets comes from sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong (well, except maybe during Tsuruga Monkey, but again the violence itself wasn’t sexual in nature AND not perpetrated by an–at the time–close friend in a position of power over our intrepid half-vampire). Sure, Ararararagi allows Senjogahara to maim him slightly, but the boy has an immortal body for which he has very little regard. But sure, for the sake of argument, some ink should maybe be spilled on why we let tsundere characters emotionally abuse people. But it’s not NEARLY as widely problematic as the threat of rape and its trivialization by our culture as it stands.

  13. Nobody sees the elephant in the room. This anime was based on a shoujo manga. Everybody is up in arms over the rape crack but have you ever read a lot of shoujo and/or josei manga? Have you even read any of the novels (typically romance) for women here in the West? Rape is played with very extensively in most female fiction (talk to the fujoshi about that one).

    I made a comment about this on Hinano’s old blog before it got DDOSed into oblivion so I’ll repeat it here:

    I remember that my 15 year old self use to have a war of words with my mother regarding my choice of reading materials. My mother liked romance, but I was the one that was reading the crazy stuff (scifi, horror, true crime etc). So, as an experiment, I decided to read the romance titles my mother had acquired over half a lifetime.

    To say I was shocked was an understatement. They were lurid, they were explicit, and, of course, kind of hot. But, the biggest problem I had with most of the books was with the rape. Whether it was in thought, word or deed it was in there.

    I’m reading books that are supposed to be for, about and by women and I still can’t escape Koike’s Law?

    (Koike’s Law: If a woman appears in any work created by Kazuo Koike, the woman’s chances of being raped are almost assured.)

    (I made Koike’s Law up so don’t Google it.)

    I confronted my mother and we got into a very heated argument over it. Finally, I said, “So rape is okay as long as he’s in love with the girl before the attack right?”

    Her reply was stunning, “Of course, that’s not rape, that’s romance.”

    So stunning in fact that the argument ended with that statement.

    My point is that rape culture is not only endemic to anime, or Japanese culture, it’s everywhere. Even in places where it shouldn’t be (tween entertainment). So before we get our collective pantsu and boxers in a wad over this, lets take a good hard look at the stuff that slips under our radar. From Detroit Metal City to shoujo titles, we’ll raise hell about rape used in one medium but accept the exact same thing in another?

    It’s either accept it, remove it entirely, or continue to be hypocrites when it comes to this issue…and we know that’s not going to happen.

    • 8C

      That elephant is actually fairly well-documented. I’m very sorry for not tackling the entirety of feminist media theory in an off-the-cuff linguistics post on an anime blog, but if you take a cursory look around the internet I can guarantee that you will find plenty of people dissecting the problematic sexism, racism, rape culture in just about any problematic work you can name. Might I recommend starting here?

      The reason things have flared up around this one line is that it’s a perfectly teachable moment, and that the stars happen to have aligned on attention being paid to it.

      But, hey, there are a lot of people who don’t see the elephant! Lots of people don’t acknowledge rape culture period, which is why we need to take advantage of bursts of interest like this in order to broadcast that signal.

      Thanks for the comment. Let’s keep pointing out that elephant together.

      Further reading: How to be a fan of problematic things.

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  16. Honestly he didn’t rape her so i have no problem with this.
    I think this was blown out of proportion a whole lot.
    I don’t find haru’s behavior in any way malicious the fact that he grabbed her like that and didn’t carry out with anything means that he didn’t mean anything serious by it, take his surprise kiss on her he only kissed her because of what he read in that manga the teacher gave him, it seemed more like he was reading an instructional manga then actually putting the moves to her.

  17. scottishotaku!

    Okay this is the last blog I’m going to read on this because its kind of putting me in a bad mood.
    I think people need to grow up I mean come on my mum and me laughed when he said that meaning its not an adult being wary or teens bring scared it’s just people making a big deal out of nothing the line was tooken to seriously it was just a gag lighten up people
    Great translation by the way I learnt alot

    • 8C

      Oh gosh, thanks, how fortuitous that you and your mum have finally arrived to offer up the final word on this whole subject.

      Pack up, everyone, looks like we’re good here.