Today’s J-blip: kabe-don

November 2nd, 2012 by Felicity Hughes

Picture the scene: A blushing girl is dashing off somewhere when all of a sudden a tall handsome guy slams his hand against the wall in front of her, she’s flustered, there’s nowhere to hide, their eyes meet and . . .  If you’re a fan of shōjo manga (manga aimed at teenage girls), you’ve no doubt seen this scene countless times and maybe even groaned a bit as the hackneyed plot device is once again wheeled out. The situation has been nicknamed “kabe-don” by manga fans, as “don” is an onomatopoeic word for thunderous sound, in this case created by a hand slamming into a kabe (wall).

This month a spate of parodies that turn the situation on its head have been produced by playful Twitter users, giving rise to the “semi-don,” and the “ten-don,” among others.

A whole new vocabulary has been born: There’s the “standard” don where a boy blocks a girl’s escape with one arm and the “slightly wild” don in which her escape is blocked by a leg. But the most popular parody by far has been the semi-don (cicada don) that, according to J-Cast, was first posted by a Twitter user on Oct. 13 as a panel of four drawings riffing on the kabe-don idea. The final panel shows a girl being completely cornered by a boy who is blocking her exit not just with both hands, but both legs too, like an insect clinging to a wall. The tweet was retweeted more than 20,000 times and lead to a number of people posting tribute photographs of themselves performing this difficult feat.

Following on from the cicada don we’ve now had the “ten-don,” in which a girl is cornered by a giant bowl of tempura and rice, the Pteranano-don, in which the flying dinosaur traps its prey in a corner and most successful of all with more than 10,000 retweets the “neko-don” featuring a pile of cats in a corner, presumably on top of their victim. Because “don” could also refer to a drum beat, it’s also common to see kabe-don parodies featuring WadaDon from Namko’s “Taiko: Drum Master” game taking the role of the “ore sama” (guy who’s a bit full of himself) lead.

Twitter is the perfect medium to disseminate this kind wordplay coupled with a one-shot visual gag, and it seems like manga fans both young and not so young are having a ball creating and re-tweeting kabe-don parodies. When it all dies down, we’re wondering which manga cliché will next receive an online dressing down. We vote for the one where a guy trips over a girl and lands on top of her, inadvertently touches a boob and receives a slap.

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