Japanese public transit is very
crowded — in fact, the operating companies hire employees to help pack trains as full as possible at the height of rush hour (often struggling young or retired sumo wrestlers who need extra cash). Japanese society has very strict sexual mores, as well. A significant social problem is that of creepy strangers on public transit (or in parks) anonymously fondling women in the midst of the crowd and confusion, or otherwise molesting them. These molesters are known by some anime fans as chikan
is actually the act
of sexual assault by groping, not the perpetrator), and signs are prominently posted in parks and on transit warning women about them. The (much rarer) females who engage in this behaviour are called chijo
As of 2006, the Japanese subways have addressed this problem by establishing women-only cars on every train. These are reportedly quite
popular. However, their failure to put a dent in numbers of cases resulted in the introduction of routine undercover police patrols of subways in 2009, coupled with new awareness campaigns to encourage reporting and prosecution of offenders.
This problem, incidentally, is also common in other crowded countries with traditionally very patriarchal cultures: India, Indonesia, Taiwan, Egypt, Brazil, and Mexico have, inspired by Japan, all started designating certain passenger cars in their public transport networks (subways, commuter railways, and even bus lines) as women-only for basically the same reason.
Many anime and manga series have at least one episode where a female character encounters a chikan
who must be confronted or evaded. The Chikan will tend to be a one-shot character serving a similar role to the Monster of the Week
. It's rare for a series to have a recurring chikan
, although quite a few series have perverted characters, many of whom are even portrayed sympathetically.
Chikan can also be considered a specific genre of pornography, particularly in Japan where the plot of doujins, hentai, films, etc. can be centered around the issue.
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Anime & Manga
- Voltaire's comic, Deady Big in Japan mentions this when Deady is shoved into a subway. He turns out to be the Chikan. (Since he has tentacles, he is able to harass a great deal of women at once) The women he is harassing then accuse an elderly man of touching them and beat him up. Deady walks away unscathed.
- Western example: The main character in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is groped on a train. Her aunt considers it a sign of maturity. This particular aunt is a Good Bad Girl who Really Gets Around, and the story is set in the 1910s, so expect some Values Dissonance to be in play.
- To be fair to the aunt, she gave her a knitting needle which the protagonist was almost looking forward to using.
- In the introductory Japanese textbook Genki, one of the male characters, Takeshi, is groped by a shadowy chikan in a cartoon illustration of the vocabulary world "sawararemashita" (to be touched against one's will).
Live Action TV
- The story of Densha Otoko (Train Man), both in real life and the dramatized TV version, starts with a loser confronting a chikan on the subway and unexpectedly winning a date for his trouble.
- They try to set up a sting for this on Reno 911!, but since the "bait" is Dep. Weigel no one tries it.
- An incident with a tv reporter who had her bottom pinched while in the middle of a live report.
- Lei-Fang's ending in Dead or Alive 4 is a perfect example of Values Dissonance. A man stumbles on a train and accidentally grabs Lei-Fang's breasts as he's falling. She responds by kicking him out of the train's windows, where he plummets into a river. The situation is Played for Laughs, and the crowd gets up and gives Lei-Fang a standing ovation. Find the video on YouTube and read the comments to get an idea of how disturbing this is to Westerners... Though some of the commenters do seem to think it was Disproportionate Retribution (it's explicitly shown to be an accident on the man's part) and the guy may have been killed.
- Some of the applause was probably due to her shirt unbuttoning and her skirt slitting up to her pantyline.
- In Twinbee Taisen Puzzle-Dama, Madoka takes Dr. Warumon as one upon encountering him in her storyline. The poor guy's response to this is priceless.