Encyclopedia

What is a Dojikko?

Dojikko is a Japanese character archetype that is very present in otaku culture. A dojikko is a clumsy female character in manga, anime, light novels, films, and video games. She has a cute personality and attractive appearance that would make her adorable for fans. Everyday activities like walking to school, carrying dishes, participating in sports, or performing household chores are challenges for the dojikko. They would often fail in performing mundane tasks. Their misfortunes are portrayed as lighthearted slapsticks rather than serious accidents. The dojikko remains optimistic despite the humiliations. It’s up to the author to add fanservice if the dojikko fumbles on any risqué situation. The characters around her either dislike her or petty about her poor situation. Some consider her as a burden to a group or workplace. They have to clean up whatever mess she has made. Some examples of fictional dojikko characters in Japanese media are Amami Haruka from THE IDOLM@STER series, Asahina Mikuru from Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu, Kamio Misuzu from Air, Noda Megumi from Nodame Cantabile, Kinomoto Sakura from the Cardcaptor Sakura series, Sayori from Doki Doki Literature Club!, and Usagi Tsukino from the Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series.  

Etymology

Dojikko (ドジっ娘) comprises of two Japanese words: doji (どぢ, どじ, or ドジ) or clumsy, and musume/ko (娘) or female. Dojikko literally means clumsy girl. There is alternate writing for dojikko: ドジっ子. The alternate writing is also applicable for male characters since it means a clumsy child rather than a clumsy girl.  

A Brief History

Western literature and media have an equivalent for dojikko: the ditzy, ditz, or klutz. The concept of optimism despite hardships in fiction appeared in Pollyanna. Pollyanna was written in 1913 by Eleanor H. Porter. The novel is about orphan Pollyanna Whittier finding optimism in bleak situations through “The Glad Game.” The Glad Game helped Pollyanna, her dower aunty, and the community around her to find happiness during the trying times. The dojikko is one of the many stock characters in Japanese fiction. They can take roles like main characters and supporting characters. Sakura Kinomoto and Usagi Tsukino are both main protagonists with the traits of dojikko. Both of the main protagonists are kind but clumsy as civilians. Their clumsiness only appeared in comical or romantic situations. But they become proficient mahou shoujo when they have to save innocent lives.  

Modern Usage

The popularity of dojikko in Japanese popular culture led to the creation of anime merchandise. Body-pillows, figurines, and wall scrolls depict the dojikko in either clumsy situations or provocative poses. The dojikko merchandise at the same time “gazes” at fans adorably or embarrassed. This adds the “moe” factor to the merchandise. Clumsiness is a normal human flaw since everybody commits mistakes. Dojikko characters are prone to accidents because of many factors: distractions, lack of dexterity, hindsight, nervousness, and the tendency to panic. What makes the character likable is her ability to maintain a positive disposition while apologizing for her flaws. Fans also consider her clumsiness as moe or cute. They would wish to protect the dojikko or see her growth as a better character.  

References:

Pixiv Encyclopedia, https://dic.pixiv.net/a/ドジっ子, Retrieved 03 January 2021. Shinjou, Kazuma. ライトノベル「超」入門 [Light Novel “Super” Introduction]. (2006) SoftBank Shinsho. p. 150. Dojikko, TV Tropes, https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Dojikko, Retrieved 03 January 2021. Cute Clumsy Girl, TV Tropes, https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CuteClumsyGirl, Retrieved 03 January 2021. Graham, Ruth, How We All Became Pollyannas (and Why We Should Be Glad About It), The Atlantic, https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/02/how-we-all-became-pollyannas-and-why-we-should-be-glad-about-it/273323/, 26 February 2013, Retrieved 03 January 2021.    

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