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I don't understand the joke behind "opposite of seme" scene. Can you please explain it to me?

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  • "seme" is a noun derived from the verb "semeru" which means "to attack".
  • The expected opposite is probably "uke", derived from "ukeru" meaning "to receive".
  • what Kaoru said was "mamori", derived from "mamoru", "to protect".
  • Seme and uke are most commonly used in martial arts to describe the roles in a move: the seme is the person who takes the initiative and attacks, while the uke is the one who is attacked, so it might also be translated as "defender" - but in many (perhaps most) cases also the one who ends up "winning" because martial arts often have turning an attacker's actions against them as a major component.
  • Yaoi fans have adapted these terms to describe the roles in a male/male relationship: the seme is the one who takes the traditional male role: initiates the relationship, "pursues" the uke and is usually "on top" during sex. This can get ridiculously codified and outright heteronormative, e.g. the seme has to be taller and stronger, not show their emotions, etc. The "uke ends up winning" aspect may or may not be relevant.
  • An otaku would know this, a normal Japanese person may not, but would understand the usage in context.
  • Kaoru's answer seems to show that she is aware of neither usage, and I guess semantically choosing "mamori" as opposite of "seme" sounds kinda sweetly naive given the alternatives.
  • A factor might be that the only common use of "mamori" as a noun which I'm aware of is in the honorific "O-mamori", talismans that one can buy for a few hundred yen in shrines or temples and which promise health, success in business or studying, safe birth, etc.
  • It's a scene from 'I can't understand what my husband is saying' episode 2. She says 'mamori' in Japanese. The conversation goes like this: "kaoru-san semeno taigikowa? Oh..., Mamori?" – Peter Raeves Oct 10 '14 at 13:58
  • @PeterRaeves: ok, looks like my guess was correct then. – Michael Borgwardt Oct 10 '14 at 14:07
  • Could you maybe add the meaning of her reply now that you know the specific word? For those of us that don't understand the meaning of the usage of 'mamori' in that specific context? ^^ – Peter Raeves Oct 10 '14 at 14:14
  • @PeterRaeves: done – Michael Borgwardt Oct 10 '14 at 14:20
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This is a reference to yaoi sex positions. Seme is the Japanese term for the dominant partner (usually on top), while the uke ("opposite" of seme) is the submissive partner, usually on the bottom.

This is also a pun in Japanese. Seme (same kanji) is another word for "offense" or "attacker". The opposite of which would be "defense".

So, I'm guessing the joke here is basically that Kaoru is perhaps "excessively" normal, since she is so pure she isn't even aware of yaoi sex terms.

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    Holy double fandom myopia! Originally the terms are from martial arts and describe the roles in a move. Yaoi fandom adapted them, but even there they describe much more than just sex positions (basically the seme takes the dominant "male role" in everything, most importantly initiating the relationship. And must be taller, etc. I also have to wonder what the Japanese dialgoue really was, since "uke" is the same word in both contexts, so you couldn't even tell whether Kaoru is aware of fandom connotations. – Michael Borgwardt Oct 10 '14 at 12:05
  • @MichaelBorgwardt: Mind sharing your knowledge about the topic as an answer? – nhahtdh Oct 10 '14 at 13:14

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