Reading manga and watching anime has recently turned into a pastime of mine. I enjoy this aspect of Japanese culture and am a very visually-inclined person, thus it works out. As I have been going along with my soon-to-be-obsessive manga/anime thing, I have come to recognize an important difference between Japanese and American cultures. That is, in America we use the actual words “I love you” as though we are automatic ticket dispensing machines… you know, the ones at the deli, or in a waiting room, at the post office… the ones that you push the button and out comes that little slip of paper that let you know that you will receive service?
When I first began read manga, I thought that the statement suki desu (“I like you”) were a direct translation of the English “I love you” as this is how it is often translated. I was shocked to discover that the word aishiteru was actually “I love you.” Furthermore, that this word was rarely used. Initially I was dismayed at the thought of what life would be like without hearing the words “I love you,” then it dawned on me… “I love you” as it is used in English seems to hold very little meaning. We use this statement seemingly freely, we love everything and everyone–disclaimer: I know that I am generalizing here. 😉 Just bear with me.
The above thought left me transitioning from feelings of anger to sadness, sadness to fear, and back again to anger, only to end with resolve. My anger stemmed from the many times I have heard, whether in my own personal life or hearing the tragic love stories of others, the statement used “I love you” that should have been really daisuki desu “I like you a lot” or better yet “I like you a lot until I find someone I like even more.”
No, this isn’t bitterness. Yes, I own the fact that I have grown more skeptical throughout years, especially in more recent ones. This is truly an attempt to understand emotionally honest and how clearly we can state our feelings given the limitations of our language. Somehow we have lost the ability to describe our more intimate feelings using words such as “adore,” “dear,” “smittened,” etc. Somehow it seems that we can only go from zero to one hundred in our feelings, and subsequently zoom down the love highway. We seemingly go from “I like you” to “I love you” without hesitation, but why?
Is it that we can no longer take the time to accurately identify and aptly describe our emotional state in relation to each other? Are we so very worried that if we do not say “I love you” that the feeling will not be conveyed accurately? I want to return to a world where I can say that I adore, am smittened, find dear, am enamored, find beloved, yearn for, desire, long for, want,etc…
So, what does this all mean, D.? Well, simply that I tip my hat to Japanese culture and am choosing to embrace in my life taking the slow lane to stating the profound feelings embodied within the words “I love you.” Afterall, life and people are too precious not slow down, understand, and clearly state my feelings. In the long run, it is simply with the aim of causing no or little harm.
- Symposium: AX Anime and Manga Studies 2012 (shinpaideshou.wordpress.com)
- Japan in Eugene (Part 2: Anime and Manga in College) (ledgam3r1279.wordpress.com)