擬人化 [gijinka]

January 10, 2010 at 1:31 am (BL, otaku word)

 It’s been quite a while since I last introduced a term, and this is the first one this year. I think I was going crazy for cosplay. Nah I have been and will be.


 When I was an elementary school student, I learned about this for the first time. It was during Japanese class, and maybe we were reading a novel or something. In the novel, there was a dove speaking to someone, and the teacher said this is called 擬人化[gijinka]. As you may imagine, gijinka means treating an object(not a human being) like a human being. Doves are not human, but let them speak languages just like human beings. In this way, anything in this world can be like human beings, and behave as we do.

 Upon hearing this, it reminds me of one of the most well-known Japanese folk tales, Crane’s Reward[鶴の恩返し]. An old man saves a crane that had been trapped, and the crane visits him, transforming into a human being. Needless to say, she has transformed into a beautiful lady in the story. Hey, we have seen something like this in Kanon, haven’t we?

 Mostly, humanized objects are supposed to be in the shape of bishoujo(pretty girls) or bishounen(handsome boys). We call that 美少女化[bishoujoka] and 美少年化[bishounenka] respectively. [ka] means -nize in English like “Americanize.” Also we can say 萌え擬人化[moe gijinka] in general. As we have seen a lot of examples in this kind of genre, there are two types of 擬人化 when it happens to animals. One is a perfectly humanized animal like Sawatari Makoto in Kanon(she is actually a fox spirit). The other type is also humanized, but some parts of the body such as the ears or the tails stay the same. For example, Holo in Wolf and Spice, Chesha cat in Pandora Hearts, all the civilians in Utawarerumono, or all the characters in Lamento. Like the folktale I mentioned , it is not exaggerating to say 擬人化 is a common way in literature.

 Now, 擬人化 can happen to anything you see. Even if it is not a living thing, it doesn’t really matter. Trains, ships, airplanes, fleets, or even insects like a beetle!

 But, 擬人化 requires some imagination because you have to bestow life to an object and treat it as a human being. So…you know what I am going to say, don’t you? Yes, when it goes to people who really love to hallucinateimagine like fujoshi, things are going to be crazy. Before I explain this, let me tell you how I was surprised a while ago. When I went to a certain bookstore, I saw a really awesome doujinshi[fan-made comic]. It was Nintama Rantarou[忍たま乱太郎]. But it was totally different from the original in the sense that all the characters were depicted as bishounen. 見分けがつかない!どれが4年生でどれが5年生なんだよ!As you may know, the original character design was quite far away from anything bishie-like, however, in this doujinshi, they all looked tall and handsome. The same goes to Keroro Gunsou[ケロロ軍曹], アンパンマン[Ampan man], and ドラえもん[Doraemon]. All the frogs in Keroro Gunsou have become gorgeous guys, and BL starts…す、すご過ぎる…腐女子の妄想ってすごいよね(笑) Anyway, characters like Nobita or Gian were humans in the first place, so we say 再擬人化[sai-gijinka] to make a character more fabulous than it actually looks. 


 This delusion finally “invaded” some countries. Yes, it is Hetaria[ヘタリア] which means 擬人化 for countries. All the characters’ names are that of a country, and they call each other like, “Hey Italy!” or,”Oi, Japan!” The funny thing is characteristics that represent each country. I mean…Japan does not say things honestly. When he says, “I will be sure to think about it postively,” that means “No.” That’s well put. And fujoshi loves to make a pair with two things no matter what it is. Once again, even if it is not a human being, they don’t care. Ameica is top[攻め] and Japan is bottom[受け], or German is top and UK is bottom…whoa, I don’t understand it at all. When it comes to gijinka of Japan’s railway[鉄道擬人化], things will be more complicated. It’s all Greek to me. But, can I just say that of all the airlines I like LAX as top and JAL as bottom?

 By the way, this fujoshi is explaining about gijinka in these pictures. Do you understand what she is talking about?

UK is a beautiful man. This is gijinka, or to humanize a country.

He said,"Don't trade with anybody else but me!"

That is tsundere, cold-but-sweet

Where would you feel loved in any place but mine?

His possessiveness is sweet!

 No wonder Japanese anime conquers the world. Because the otaku imagination and fujoshi delusion are everlasting.


  1. Micchi said,

    I can see her train of thought, but it’s not something that I would associate right away.

    Often, people will say that other living things have feelings too, but I find it difficult to do the same with nonliving things, especially countries and train stations.

    • bangin said,

      We just get them to transform into bishoujo or bishounen. Well, it requires imagination, I need to get more!

  2. mochie said,

    Over the past 1 or 2 years Gijinka has started becoming popular with Western otakus too, most particularly Pokemon Gijinka. If you go to an Anime convention in the US or Australia, you will see people who cosplay Pokemon Gijinka even! Pikachu is always most popular.

  3. Japanese Words said,

    This is something I don’t think I will ever be able to do. Though I have seen it done may times, especially with cars.

    • bangin said,

      Cars, trains, ships…for some reason, it happens to vehicles, huh?

  4. 月下メロン said,

    fastech 360 train got turned into bishoujo and made into figure form:


    I want it but I can’t find it anywhere now (ι´Д`)

    UK won’t trade with many people because he is in too much debt with the others! 政治風刺w

    • bangin said,

      Oh yes, this is it. It’s for all the train otaku. Something like this is available in Akihabara,

      Hetaria contains a bit political irony. Because of this, this anime didn’t show on TV. Rumor has it it made xxrxxn people angry…

  5. Alex said,

    I think it’s really interesting that the fujoshi analyzed one line from Hetalia and identified the character as ツンデレ. Recently a blogger (http://fuzakenna.com/2010/01/06/stop-using-the-term-tsundere-you-fcking-assholes/) went off on using the term so haphazardly. Would you agree?

    • bangin said,

      Words are alive. As things change, meanings of words might change. That’s why dictionaries have to be updated.

      Besides, we never know who actually made words like tsundere. Where did it come from? It is unidentified. It’s no wonder such a word goes this way or that way. As time goes by, some more definitions might come up with.

      I am not too sure if this blogger is really upset, and I don’t mean to be against him(?), but I don’t agree.

  6. Marie said,

    Oh~ Ginjika. Like an anime, Miracle Train, where each station is this handsome humanized form ^^!?!

    I didn’t really got into Hetaria (yet ^^;;), but I do agree with you saying, “fujoshi loves to make a pair with two things no matter what it is.” LOL, no matter what it is xD

    • bangin said,

      Yes, Miracle Train is a perfect example. Also, small comic markets for gijinka only take place from time to time. Like 擬人化オンリー.

  7. bangin said,

    Mizuha: So huge Pikachu!

  8. whytebubble said,

    “No wonder Japanese anime conquers the world. Because the otaku imagination and fujoshi delusion are everlasting.” –whoa. instant classic! =)

    oh and happy new year! xD

    • bangin said,

      So more and more terms will be coming out.

      Happy new year. ^^

  9. rzncu said,

    LAX as top and JAL as bottom <— LOL airlines! You reminded me of this bl manga that was about guys who worked on the airplane XD

    It's titled 楽園30000フィート―All Nippon Air Line.

    That fujoshi was talking about hetalia XD Before hetalia existed, me and my friend loved france/uk as a pair because it's the history of how canada came to be canada so in history classes, fujoshi will start to have delusions, especially if the teacher talks about history in a misleading manner XD It's also funny to think of countries as one person though. That way, it's easier for world to get along, since it's only one person per country.

    • bangin said,

      Well actually this fujoshi was not mentioning Hetalia, but just her dellusion. lol
      But I am sure fujoshi could be good at history lesson because of Hetalia. Even I started to understand the history a little.

      • rzncu said,

        Actually, Hetalia can be very misleading when it comes to actual history. But then so can textbooks and history teachers, history is always a hard thing to understand and learn, because there are so many different “versions”.

  10. Beautiful Women : said,

    it is quite sad that most train stations these days are horrendously overloaded “”

  11. Gijinka Gabumon Jacket said,

    […] Gijinka (擬人化): Romaji characters for the Japanese word meaning “treating [anything nonhuman] like a human being”. (linkz) […]

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