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SMAC! Web Magazine

LOST (and FOUND) in TRANSLATION #001 – “KABE-DON”

Hi guys! Andrew here. How well do you know your otaku slang? There are lots of strange, untranslatable words that give manga translators a big headache! Today I’m going to introduce a situation that often comes up in shojo manga. Read on and you might even pick up some tips on how to confront your crush!

Today’s word: 壁ドン (Kabe-don)

This is made up of two words. Kabe (壁) means “wall”. Don (ドン) is a sound like a thud. Put together, it creates an image of someone striking a wall. In Japanese apartment buildings, the walls tend to be very thin and people get very irritated if the neighbors are noisy (something you should keep in mind if you move to Japan!) So your neighbor might bang on the wall a little to tell you to keep it down! This is one kind of kabe-don. However, thanks to the manga LDK by Ayu Watanabe, kabe-don has taken on a very different meaning!

Please picture the following scene in a shojo manga:
A girl is cornered by her crush. She has her back to a wall, and he is standing directly in front of her. To close the distance (perhaps so he can whisper some sweet nothings in her ear) the guy leans in and places his hand on the wall, next to the girl’s head (thereby striking the wall with a “don!” sound)

lt_01_kabedon

This is a kabe-don scene! Although it might sound a little scary to be confronted by a guy in this way, female readers have stated that (as long as the guy is handsome) “Kabe-don” is a very appealing situation! One theory is that these woman are tired of shy, stammering male leads, and enjoy the fantasy of being pursued by someone more aggressive. Of course, kabe-don can also be done in reverse, with the girl cornering the guy! (In this case, it’s called gyaku-kabe-don – gyaku meaning “reverse”)

Do you think “kabe-don” is romantic?
Do you ever use this tactic in real life?
Please leave your comments below!

 

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Penmaru