And kanji with manga
Thursday, March 8, 2018

gattai 合体

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!!!

The first "combination," gattai 合体, of Getter Robo.
Manga: Getter Robo, ゲッターロボ (Chapter 4, ゲッター1登場)

Meaning

The word gattai can be used for many kinds of merging, like when two companies merge, or two websites merge, and so on.

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!)

In Anime

In anime, gattai almost always refers to robots combining to form larger, more powerful robots.

This is said to be a "man's passion," otoko no rouman 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 stuff. It's the robot equivalent of hand holding.

Besides robots combining, there are also cases of the word being used for other things combining.

For example, 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.

Sexual Slang

The word gattai 合体, "to merge [with something]," can also mean "to have sex [with someone]."

Now if you're wondering why in the world does it mean that, it's because there's a similar phrase in Japanese that means to make love with someone:

  • hitotsu ni naru
    一つになる
    To become one. (literally)
    To make love with. (figuratively)
  • X to hitotsu ni naru
    Xと一つになる
    To become one with X.
    To make love with X.

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.

合体
Anime: Seitokai Yakuindomo 生徒会役員共 (Episode 8)
  • gattai
    合体
    Combination.

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 - dic.nicovideo.jp, 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."

真尋さんは この私が先にツバ つけたんですからね ましては彼は BLタイプじゃないんです 彼のご立派な サムライソードに 貫かれるのはこの 私なんですぅ!! そんなのずるい はやいもの勝ちとか ないもん 恋愛にルールなんて ないんだよ ぼ ぼくだって ま まひろくんと …その…がっ… がったいしたいんだ もん・・・・・・!!
Manga: Haiyore! Nyaruko-san 這いよれ!ニャル子さん (Chapter 9, 進んで囚われの身)
  • Mahiro-san wa
    kono watashi ga saki ni tsuba
    tsuketa-n-desu-kara ne

    真尋さんは
    この私が先にツバ
    つけたんですからね
    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

    まして彼は
    BLタイプじゃないんです
    Plus he's not a BL-type. (i.e. gay.)
  • kare no go-rippa-na
    samurai-soodo ni
    tsuranukareru nowa
    kono watashi nan-desuu

    彼のご立派な
    サムライソードに
    貫かれるのはこの
    私なんですぅ!!
    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
    そんなのずるい
    That's unfair.
  • hayai mono kachi toka
    nai mon

    はやいもの勝ちとか
    ないもん
    It's not something like the fastest one wins.
  • ren'ai ni ruuru nante
    nai-n-da yo

    恋愛にルールなんて
    ないんだよ
    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
    mon......!!

    ぼ ぼくだって
    ま まひろくんと
    ・・・その・・・がっ・・・
    がったいしたいんだ
    もん・・・・・・!!
    With M-Mahiro-kun
    e-even I want to...
    ...erm... co...
    combine......!!

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