Thursday, March 8, 2018

Gattai 合体 - Meaning in Japanese

In Japanese, the word gattai 合体, written with the kanji for the words "join" and "body," means, literally, to combine two or more bodies into one. Although the term can be used in a number of ways, in anime it's pretty much always used to refer to one thing: combining mechas!!!

Gattai sequence from manga Getter Robot ゲッターロボ

It's known: one or more giant robots fitting together into one bigger mecha is a "a man's passion," otoko no rouman 漢の浪漫. If you're a fan of the mecha genre then it's only natural you impatiently wait for that gattai scene sequence to show up in pretty much every mecha anime. People love that shit. It's the robot equivalent of hand holding.

Non-Mecha Gattai

It's worth nothing that although gattai often means for robots to combine in anime, it can refer to gattai'ng other stuff too.

For example, in the series Shin Megami Tensei 真・女神転生 "True 'Goddess Reincarnation'," features a system called akuma gattai 悪魔合体, "demon combination," which lets you fuse two or more demons into one. The demons, by the way, are not robots, they're living (?) flesh.

The Persona series also features a similar system.

Sometimes fusions in Dragon Ball are referred to as gattai, sometimes as the katakanization of "fusion," fyuujon フュージョン.

Non-Anime Gattai

Besides that, gattai can also be used for many kinds of merging. Like when two companies merge, or two websites merge, etc.


For reference, some basic gattai phrases:
  • gattai 合体
    Combination. (noun)
  • gattai suru 合体する
    To combine. To merge. To unite.
  • gattai shita 合体した
    To have combined.
  • gattai shiro 合体しろ
    To combine. (imperative)
  • gattai dekiru 合体できる
    To be able to combine.
  • gattai seikou 合体成功
    Successful combination. (hurray!)

Anata to Gattai Shitai! あなたと合体したい

One rather funny bit that rarely shows up in anime is a second meaning the word gattai has.
  • gattai 合体
    Having sex with (someone).

Now if you're wondering "what?" the answer is very simple:
  • hitotsu ni naru 一つになる
    To become one. (literal)
    To make love with. (figurative)
  • X to hitotsu ni naru Xと一つになる
    To become one with X.

In Japanese, the phrase hitotsu ni naru, "to become one," as in, for two things to become one, figuratively becomes "to become one (with someone)," which is an idiom for "to have sex with" or "to make love with" or "to marry with" or ecchi suru エッチする or however you may want to interpret it.

Someone probably thought: two people "to become one" means "to make love," ergo "combination" means "love-making," and that's how the word gattai came to mean that. It's probably a wordplay (though I have no proof.)

gattai 合体, "combination," as seen in the episode 8 of the anime Seitokai Yakuindomo 生徒会役員共

Usually you see these phrases in the -tai form instead.
  • kimi to hitotsu ni naritai 君と一つになりたい
    [I] want to become one with you.
  • anata to gattai shitai あなたと合体したい
    [I] want to combine with you.

But the wordplaying doesn't stop there.

The phrase anata to gattai shitai shows up in the anime Sousei no Aquarion 創聖のアクエリオン, which is a mecha anime. Now, usually gattai, in mecha, refers to the combining, of mechas, so the usage of this phrase is probably a joke making a reference to the genre while also making the wordplay on hitotsu ni naritai.

*wordplaying intensifies*

To make matters worse, in Aquarion, machines that gattai'd were three, normally two guys and one girl, so hetero-sex. And the anime had a lot to do with angels and stuff, so there was a thing called sousei gattai 創世合体, "Genesis gattai."

In a sequel, Aquarion Evol, you had gattai of characters of the same-sex, thus the term dousei-gattai 同性合体, "homosexual gattai" also came to be. [同性合体 -, 2019-01-11]

To worsen the matters made further, of course the Japanese anime community wouldn't let this kind of high-level pun to go unnoticed, so people started using the phrase anata to gattai shitai as a meme.

To farther matter the worst making, to deal the final blow, comes, of course, as one would expect, the parody manga, containing the meme, that comes from the genre-referencing joke, that makes use of the wordplay, that's based on the idiom, that means "to make love."

The phrase gattai shitai がったいした used by Hasta ハス太 in the manga Haiyore! Nyaruko-san 這いよれ!ニャル子さん
  • Mahiro-san wa
    kono watashi ga saki ni tsuba
    tsuketa-n-desu-kara ne

    I called dibs on Mahiro-san first, you see.
    • tsuba wo tsukeru ツバを付ける
      To put spit on [something.] (literally.)
      To call dibs on. (because other people won't eat something you already put your spit on.)
  • mashite kare wa
    Bi-Eru-taipu janai-n-desu

    Plus he's not a BL-type. (i.e. gay.)
    • BL = Boys' Love.
  • kare no go-rippa-na
    samurai-soodo ni
    tsuranukareru nowa
    kono watashi nan-desuu

    The one to be pierced by his incredible samurai sword will be me.
    • I'm not even joking, this is literally what's written there.
  • sonna no zurui
    That's unfair.
  • hayai mono kachi toka
    nai mon

    It's not something like the fastest one wins.
  • ren'ai ni ruuru nante
    nai-n-da yo

    There's no such thing as rules when it comes to romance.
  • bo boku datte
    ma mahiro kun to
    ... sono... ga'...
    gattai shitai-n-da

    ぼ ぼくだって
    ま まひろくんと
    With M-Mahiro-kun
    e-even I want to...
    ...erm... co...

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