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Modern and Traditional Japanese Culture: The Psychology of Buddhism, Power Rangers, Masked Rider, Manga, Anime and Shinto. 在日イギリス人男性による日本文化論.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


Gattai! Merge!

Gattai! Merge!
Originally uploaded by timtak
Our son made his toy trucks "Gattai", or coalesce, coallide, combine, link, merge, or bond in the fashion above.

"Gattai!" the Japanese word for "coalescence", or "merge!" is a common refrain in a number of cartoons/anime for 3 to 7 year old, predominantly male, Japanese children.

Usually, the heroes, or cars, whatever, meet a foe that is too strong for anyone of them to beat, so they shout "Gattai!" and merge together to form a super-unity to vanquish that foe.

My son is into the Tomika Heroes anime called "Rescue Fire," (previously Rescue Force?) in which usually 3 members of a team board vehicles that link together to form one larger, super, powerful vehicle. In fact their cars are stored in trucks, and it is the trucks that then merge to form the Rescue Fire Dragon, I think. There is a detailed article about the series on wikipedia. It seems that the enemy "gattai" too.

The "gattai" phenomina is not limited to this series. In many many children's anime over the years, cars and other vehicles, or even animals I think, link together to form a super unity, a robot, or super-life form. Teams of superheroes merge to form one body, with a clarion call of "Gattai!" In all cases, it really gets the viewers going. Ray's eyes light up, in an extasy of gattai-ing. What is going on?

There is the theory that this is something to do with sex. The trucks look a bit like they are at it, a la canine.

Can a prepubescent realisation of the physical nature of the libido be the root cause of the fascination with "Gattai!"? Is the fascination purely "libidinal"?

I don't think so.

For one thing, in many of these anime the merging beings are often of the same sex. I don't think that the viewers are gay, nor do I think that they are unaware of the sexual (i.e. male-female) nature of much sex. This is not sex. My son is (I am not bragging) one hundred percent hetrosexual, even at three. He has girlfriends. He finds girls attractive.

But the refrain of "Gattai" in this genre of cartoon/anime often or usually occurs when more than one male entity merges.

To cut a long story short, I wonder whether this joyful occurence represents the solidification, or merging of the parts of the self. I am not sure what these parts are. But it seems to me that the self is multi-parted. The games that these youngesters are playing may represent their glee, their desire for and achievement of coalescence. There may still be a libidinal element, but I think that the coalescence is intra-psychic.

That is just a guess. The "Gattai" phenomena is a myth of our times. It is profound.

Do American cartoon characters Gattai?

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Besides building things (Legos, Train sets, Blocks, Mobile etc.) only the imports really Gattai. My cousins got Bakugan for Christmas, really awesome. They fight in a nylon floor arena ,m roll into spheres and emerge from thier shell on top of a magnetic card. Awesome.


and this guy loves it, too.
Thank you very much. Lego do "gattai" in a sense, but not in the way that some many heroes do in Japan.

Thank you for the Bakugan link too.

I think that the fact that an American adult can find it that interesting, suggests that it has a deep psychological appeal!

The Tomika Heroes also combine to form a dragon.

There is also the go-onger series that combine to form a robot.

I am reminded of:
1) Psychoanalytic and multipart theories of the self (as mentioned in this article)
2) Collectivism or Markus and Kitayama's take upon it, taken to an almost extreme degree of concreteness.
3) Scientology' assertion that we are infested with aliens!?
4) Yoga chakras? Yes...accroding to the Wikipedia article deities reside at the chakra points in our body.

I want to write again about this.
spiritual merging/ physical merging

- the difference between 'becoming one' as opposed to just 'teamwork'?
dont know what it is, but it exists!
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This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.