February 2, 2011

つたえない きもち![Tsutaenai Kimochi]! Februrary marks the Season of Unconveyable Feelings! {RSP}

Hey guys! It's finally February! Shortest month of the year, one of the coldest, and home to Valentine's Day! In America everyone knows about Valentine's Day... you give out cards and chocolates, flowers to a special loved one, maybe a fun little date and dinner and whatnot. It goes without saying that Valentine's day is well celebrated here in the States.

But Japan is no different, if not even more passionate, about Valentine's day! The Japanese call February 14th  「バレンタインデー」, the katakanization of Valentine's day. They treat the day with equal regard, as it is a social holiday, not too far from Christmas, and allows you to show love for... those you love.

In Japan there's a custom for only girls to give gifts on Valentine's day, and for guys to repay the debt on "White Day," which is Marth 14th. You might be starting to think, "Hey, why so serious? There are specific days when one sex gives the other gifts?" Yes. Because in Japan there is a "chocolate hierarchy."

The Two Types of Chocolate

There are two main types of chocolate given out on Valentine's Day in in Japan. Girls give what's called "ぎりちょこ" [giri choco] or obligatory chocolate, to people that they know generally: friends, coworkers, family, etc, but don't have strong romantic feelings for. This is to still show friendship during Valentine's day (and also a all about the Japanese economy, marketing goods, etc). It's all about being civil and friendly, even if you don't like them "in that way."

The other type of chocolate, "ほんめいちょこ," [honmei choco] means "true feelings chocolate." This is the chocolate (usually expensive) that girls reserve for the ones they like/love/going out with. Girls usually put a lot of effort into 「ほんめいちょこ」, even to the extent of melting down high-grade chocolate and baking it into cute heart shapes, making intricate carved lettering, etc. 「ほんめいちょこ」 is a show of love to people already dating, but is a confession of love if given to someone you aren't dating. Girls consider accepted 「ほんめいちょこ」 on 「バレンタインデー」to be the start of a relationship! 女の子たち がんばって!

Other types of chocolate given on Valentine's day:
"ちょうぎりちょこ[chou-giri choco]" - lit. "super obligatory chocolate" is chocolate given to really unfamiliar acquaintances, people you barely know, or people who just aren't popular. The name comes from how cheap the chocolate really is (think 99 cent store). I personally think this is a horrible thing to give someone! Just don't give them anything!!

"友ちょこ[tomo-choco]" - lit. "friend chocolate" is chocolate the girls give to each other. I suppose it has a special meaning when BFFFLs (best female friends for life) decide to give each other chocolate. I wonder if they give each other stuff for White Day as well...? I know guys sure don't.

"ないちょこ[nai choco]" - lit. "no chocolate" is ... nothing. I find this pretty sad. This is when you're so unpopular that no one you know gives you chocolate. But cheer up! It gives you pimples anyway.

Now! Onto the purpose of this Random Stuff Post. "Tsutaenai kimochi" literally means "unconveyable feelings." Now, this topic isn't fully Japanese-centered, but it's focused on a lot in romance anime and J-drama.

In Japan, love isn't something that you test out, that you fabricate just to hook up, or that you find inconvenient when it doesn't suit you. Love in Japan is a feeling they can never fully put into words, that always boils up and comes out wrong. Which is what causes many interesting situations in anime. Everything from complex heart-wrenching romance to manzai-style humorous relationships stem from feelings that are difficult to put into words. Let's examine some anime then, shall we?

Lovely complex: Koizumi and Otani's hilarious relationship is a great example. They start off wanting significant others that suit their, well, stature, but eventually Koizumi falls for Otani, even though he's almost 2 heads shorter than her! Her feelings are hard to convey, in this case it's because of their physical difference and the way their arguments always turn out sounding like a manzai routine!

[And like that, the lols ensue! Trust me, it's all because they're just shy ^-^]

Bokura ga Ita: On a much more serious note, Bokura ga Ita is about a high school romance filled with mystery. Nana falls in love with the popular boy Yano, but before she knows it they're actually in a relationship! Everything is going as planned, but wait... Yano has some skeletons in his closet. In this case, Yano (the guy!) has trouble conveying his feelings because of his past and the influence of other people. And Nana's feeling are clouded when she questions Yano's devotion to her...

Kimi ni Todoke: At times funny, other times frustrating (Geez, Kazehaya!), but always endearing, Kimi ni Todoke is about Sawako-chan's break from her social shell into a bright and happy world of friendships, involvement, helping others, and love. Kimi ni Todoke epitomizes the concept of "tsutaenai kimochi." Kazehaya and Sawako both like each other, but Kazehaya doesn't want to weigh Sawako down with his feelings and Sawako is clueless when it comes to guys! Kimi ni Todoke 2nd is becoming a test of how long the two can keep going without letting each other know how they feel... unconveyable feelings are hard to watch!

I think you get the point. Wait, you have a question? "What about Toradora? Why can't all anime depict perfect relationships?" Well, here's a simple math problem for you.

+ =

[X + Y = Z? Ehhh? Where do I plug in the? Tsundere? Where do I plug that in? Ugh.]

Japanese people have plenty anxiety about relationships. It's best shown in situations like these where feelings are hard to convey. I can honestly sympathize -- I hate it when people misunderstand what I say. And many people find love to be the most important thing on Earth. So it's obvious that letting someone know your feelings would be a difficult thing.

But this Valentine's day, try to follow Japanese customs! Give your friends 「ぎりちょこ」, and maybe give that special someone some delicious 「ほんめいちょこ」! Of course, I'm referring to you girls out there ;P All you can do is pray, guys! Lol.

Well that's enough from me! Stay warm and hold your feelings tight!


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