It’s interesting to see the random cultural tidbits you can pick up watching anime. Like the scene in K-On! in which Mugi goes to a fast food restaurant with Mio and Ritsu and, instead of eating the french fries she’s just bought, puts them in a pile with the other girls’ fries so they can all grab from the center, an example of putting the group before the individual. I was watching the new anime Dance in the Vampire Bund the other day, and I noticed an interesting scene in which the pure and honest Yuki was walking a few steps behind the male protagonist, Akira. It’s an expression of an old saying that goes sanpo sagatte, shi no kage fumazu or “walk three steps behind so as not to step on the master’s shadow,” words from a less enlightened age when females were expected to walk behind males (teachers, husbands, etc.) in a visible show of respect. The custom is no longer in practice of course, but in the highly stylized world of anime, Yuki was shown walking behind Akira to reinforce her image as a pure, good girl.
So, do women from the West (or wherever) ever feel insulted by things you see in anime? Another interesting word is お前 (omae), a male only word (pretty much) meaning “you” which is sometimes called sexist because men use it to women with the idea being that the man is higher in status than the woman, since he can use this word and she can’t. Thoughts on this?
Walk three steps behind, so as not to step on your master’s shadow.