Kabedon is the act of pinning down a love interest against the wall. The receptive gets cornered in the wall and unable to escape. In Japanese media such as shoujo manga or anime, this is a sign of affection, jealousy, or frustration by the dominant. There could be sexual tension between the two it is an aggressive move. Typically, a tough male character performs the kabedon to a meek female character.
In shonen manga, kabedon is a display of rage. A character furiously hits a wall, and it either shows terror or comedy. The protagonist could receive a kabedon from a rival. The rival harasses the protagonist to assert dominance. This is more of aggression rather than a romantic approach.
There are also comedic versions of kabedon. The parody version uses one leg up on the wall with an arm on the other side. The other one is called semidon (蝉ドン) or cicada block. The dominant blocks the receptive in the corner like a cicada.
Kabedon combines two Japanese words: kabe (壁) or wall, and don (ドン) or the onomatopoeia of a hard-hitting object. The literal translation is hitting the wall so hard it makes a loud sound.
There are various origins for kabedon. Some speculate it was a recurring gag by comedian Shimada Tamayo from the comedy show Yoshimoto Shinkigeki. Others believe it was internet slang. It was first used online for protesting against a noisy neighbor. Since apartments or condominiums in Japan are very close, any kind of noise is disruptive. Some resort to angrily knocking the wall. Knocking on the wall against a noisy tenant may be considered rude.
The word kabedon was introduced by voice actor Shintani Ryouko. She described it as a romantic situation rather than an angry protest. Some Japanese netizens were unhappy with the new usage of kabedon.
One of the earliest appearances of kabedon in manga was in L♡DK. L♡DK is a shoujo manga in 2009 by Watanabe Ayu about the couple Nishimori Aoi and Kugayama Shuusei. Shuusei is considered the high school’s “prince,” but he is infamous for rejecting girls. Shusei turns down Aoi’s best friend. She then had resentment against Shuusei. When Shuusei’s apartment burned down, he moved to Aoi’s flat. He became friendlier towards Aoi. Meanwhile, Aoi learned more about Shuusei, and she fell in love. The two had to keep the secret of staying at the same flat from their acquaintances. The act of kabedon in the series was slightly more aggressive. The intention was to draw closer to the feelings of the readers. The series became so popular that it received two live-action film adaptations. Kabedon eventually became popular in Japanese popular culture and media.
In East Asia, it is expected that women should stay demure while the men do the courting. Men that lack aggressive masculinity are called herbivore men or grasshoppers. Some women fantasize that one day a dashing man would romantically claim them. Kabedon is about trapping a love interest and showing affection. It is more of a female fantasy in a society where some men lack stereotypical masculinity.
The issue lies when the love interest doesn’t have any romantic feelings. Kabedon is only an idealized form of courting in fiction. When done in real life, the one receiving the kabedon gets harassed. They may even file a harassment complaint if they feel uncomfortable. Unless they know the context, doing a kabedon in real life leads to trouble. There are some scenes or stereotypes in Japanese media that don’t translate well in real life.
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