You know in manga and anime, how sometimes characters corner their love interests by putting their arm on the wall? That's called "kabe don" (壁ドン). Its recent appearance in an instant noodle commercial is bewildering some people online in Japan.
In simplest terms, "kabe" (壁) means "wall," and "don" (ドン) is a loud noise. So, kabe-don is loosely, "hitting a wall." A new Nissin noodle ad centers around kabe-don. The ad, like the previous Nissin commercial in this series, relies heavily on stereotypes. Not all young Japanese people read manga and not all young women think their ideal lover is a manga character! Anyway, have a look:
As noted on the Nico Nico Pedia, a terrific resource for understanding Japanese internet culture, kabe-don trope often appears in manga and love simulators aimed at women. As a trope in these mediums, this highly possessive gesture is generally restricted to good-looking characters and not recommended in real life. But as a plot device, kabe-don creates tension. What happens next is key! In manga, the other character can then react, by refusing the advances, such as by slapping and running away, or kabe-don can result in a tender exchange.
On 2ch, Japan's largest internet forum, some commenters didn't like the commercial, saying calling it "creepy" or lacking in taste. The ad is rather overstated, which is what they could be reacting to. Some on YouTube found the ad amusing.
Then, there were those who said this wasn't actually kabe-don. That could be because, as defined on the Nico Nico Pedia, doing this gesture in real-life to those you don't really know is "obviously not allowed." (Some might think it's questionable even if you are intimate with the person, but there you go!) Kabe-don is not a greeting or a nice to meet you! Random characters doing kabe-don is simply...bizarre.
Back in 2012 and early 2013, some Twitter users did humorous recreations of different kinds of "extreme" kabe-don.
Then, there were those who thought kabe-don was something else entirely. As evident with the Nissin commercial was recently posted, there were some Japanese internet users who didn't know this definition of kabe-don. Why? Well, there's another kabe-don that isn't romantic at all. On the Nico Nico Pedia, the first definition is banging on the adjoining wall when the neighbor in the next apartment is being noisy. Kind of like this:
Here's a kabe-don being done to a kabe-don. Confusing!
Yes, this is just a silly commercial, but even as a way to show the difference between fantasy and reality, it doesn't quite understand how the romance kabe-don trope is actually used in manga and instead making the assumption that manga readers would confuse that gesture with some guy losing his balance on the train. Then again, what should you expect from a thirty-second noodle commercial? Delicious noodles, that's what.
カップヌードルCM 「壁ドン 篇」 30秒 [Nissin]
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