February 11, 2016

Valentine's Day in Japan

Valentine's Day has become a ubiquitous custom throughout Northeast Asia. In Japan, it took off after the war thanks to the obvious commercial interests and a brilliant ad campaign. (As did the practice of eating Kentucky Fried Chicken and sponge cake on Christmas. No kidding.)

And given the pressures of social conformity, it's brought about the inevitable backlash: secretaries feeling duty-bound to give chocolates to the guys in their office (called giri-choko or "obligation chocolate"). The profound difference between a cheap box you bought at the store and chocolates lovingly hand-made cannot be underestimated.

And, of course, the BMOCs rake in all the good stuff (a standard scene in anime is a popular guy's locker stuffed to overflowing with boxes of chocolates and cards).

Valentine's Day's is bifurcated by sex, with "White Day" coming a month later (March 14). On White Day, boys give chocolates (or other gifts) to girls. As you might imagine, this is not something guys get terribly passionate about (unless they have a compelling reason to), and approach the occasion in a more pro forma manner.

Lately, Christmas Eve (also not an official holiday in Japan but another big commercial blow-out) has become the real Valentine's Day, when couples indulge in excessive demonstrations of affection, get engaged, that sort of thing.

For my money, the cutest Valentine's Day depicted in anime is the penultimate episode (15) of Kamichu! (sadly out of print, but Netflix still has most of the DVDs, and you can find dubbed episodes on YouTube). Yurie Hitotsubashi may be a Shinto goddess, but that doesn't make the romantic dilemmas any easier.

Though it can produce rather unexpected resolutions.

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# posted by Blogger Katherine Woodbury
2/14/2016 11:46 AM   
One of my favorite examples of Valentine's Day chocolate-giving in manga comes from Library Wars. The taciturn, non-sweets-liking hero (a common trait in shojo manga heroes) accepts Kasahara's cheap chocolate despite her protests. Now, that's love!
# posted by Anonymous valentines day
1/04/2017 1:36 PM   
my love coming