September 1, 2011
Mistakes about America in Hana-Kimi
Hi everyone! I thought I’d start with a fun post. Recently, I’ve been reading popular shojo manga Hana-Kimi. While a fun read, I find Hana-Kimi to be a very average shojo series, from it’s typical dense leading heroine to it’s use of ridiculous plots. But one thing that jumped out at me right away is how much Hisaya Nakajo got wrong about American life. You’d think she would have done research, since the main character is supposed to be from America and is pretty unfamiliar with Japanese culture. I’m only up to volume 17 of the manga, so I’m probably missing some stuff, but again, I’m just doing this for fun.
1) In America, tests are open book (Vol. 3). I friggin’ wish. If open book means ‘read notes off the palm of my hand that I wrote the night before,’ then yes, they are open book.
2) We don’t have school trips (Vol. 6). Mizuki seems sooo surprised when the school went on a trip. ‘Cause we don’t have those.
3) Even people who don’t speak Japanese will be able to magically tell what your name is in a conversation (Vol. 13). Yup, cause when someone speaks in a language I don’t understand I can tell they are introducing themselves to me.
4) Dance Party!!! (Vol. 11). The Christmas party at Mizuki’s school is a formal event, and she compares it to a ‘graduation party.’ Uh, a formal party done by school is called a prom. But it’s close enough that I’ll let it slide.
5) In volume two, Mizuki doesn’t seem to understand what goes on during Valentine’s Day. Which makes no sense, considering it’s a Western holiday.
6) The American understanding of the word kiss is automatically a kiss on the cheek. I’m sorry, it doesn’t matter what country or culture you’re in, if the person you have a crush on talks about kissing you, your first thought is probably not going to be so platonic.
7) Misc. There are also some general stereotypes about Americans, like that we speak our minds and that the women all have big breasts. These aren’t necessarily incorrect – they just make me laugh.
But, I guess I shouldn’t expect an accurate depiction of America from a manga. Especially not from a manga artist who seems to think that most straight males love to dress in drag and wash each other’s backs. :P