One of the themes of Japan is that relationships are “vertical,” with differences in the roles played by people of different social levels, which wouldn’t exist as much in the West. A good example is the way a senpai in a school or company will interact with his or her kohai, acting as a mentor teaching a protégé, giving guidance and doing things like picking up the tab at coffee shops, and receiving respect and deference from the younger person in return. If you listen in on a conversation in Japanese, it literally takes only seconds to understand the relationships between the speakers thanks to the language they use: the senior will speak with informal verbs and might use second person pronouns like kimi, suitable for talking to someone younger than them, while the junior will use formal speech in return — it’s all sort of like TCP/IP for humans. This convenient senpai/kohai system can break down in certain situations, for example when a 40 year old man joins a company and suddenly has a 25 year old senpai, or while dealing with Westerners who don’t understand the seniority system. In a KanColle comic I posted to J-List’s Facebook page the other day, the battleship Katori decides to assert her role as the dominant senpai to the “new” American ship, Iowa. But since Americans are always tall, blonde and full of confidence (at least in Japanese popular culture), Iowa turns the tables on Katori and assumes the dominate role instead. (Artist credit here.)
Tomorrow, March 3rd, is a special day for families with girl children in Japan. Called Hinata Matsuri (usually translated as Girl’s Day in English), it’s a day to proudly display beautiful Japanese dolls that represent the Imperial Court, which serve to bring happiness to the family. Like other interesting cultural traditions in Japan, such as Setsubun, when children throw soybeans to chase imaginary devils out of the home, Hinata Matsuri is a very old tradition, going all the way back to the Heian Period (794-1185) when Japan enjoyed its most peaceful time. The special day for families with boy children comes on May 5th, when families will fly huge kites called koi-nobori, which represent carp swimming upstream to spawn.
J-List carries many fun and interesting “solo” products for guys, for girls and for couples which are sometimes based on your favorite anime characters. Today we’ve posted two parody toys that represent your favorite Idolmaster Cinderella Girls, along with other fun parody items you might want to browse.