Gyaru is a relatively new (circa 1979) Japanese word for girl derived from the English word gal. The term simmered through the 80s and superseded burikko as the word for all things that are both female and shinjinrui (新人類, literally "new mankind" - the generation of young people from the mid-80s onward). Although there are many stratifications of gyaru, generally they are progressive, fad conscious, college bound/attending (女子大生 joshidaisei) or career oriented. The women's movement in 80s Japan led many ladies to enter the workplace and marry late. As a result of this emergent culture there is a range of language used by and surrounding this group. One such term I find interesting is boifurendo no godan katsuyou (ボイフレンドの五段活用, literally "five tiers of practical boyfriend use", or simply "five levels of boyfriends").
The Boyfriend Scale
(from highest to lowest)
- Honmei-kun (奔馬いくん):
The favorite boyfriend. The most desirable, the leader of the pack. Honmei comes the horse racing term for the break away or favored horse. The criteria for the honmei-kun are called sankou (三高, literally "three highs"). The three highs are:
- sei ga takai (背が高い): height/stature high, tall
- kyuuryou ga takai (給料が高い): salary high, well paid
- gakureki ga takai (学歴が高い): education high, well educated or from a prestigious university.
- Kiipu-kun (キーピくん):
Kiipu used here is from the English word keep. This boyfriend is the one that is kept for now or just in case until honmei-kun shows up. This man is 'good enough for now', what Phoebe and Rachel would call "a backup". However, he's still the second best loved.
- Mitsugu-kun (貢ぐくん) aka Messhii-kun (飯くん):
Mitsugu is to pay tribute, and therefore mitsugu-kun is a boyfriend for gifts, a sugar daddy. Messhii-kun is a person who pays for meals (from meshi, meal and also possibly a pun against messhi 滅私, selfless/unselfish). This is the guy who's there to buy dinner, see also sushi-kun further down.
- Asshii-kun (アッシーくん):
Asshii (an abbreviation for the English automotive assembly) is used here as a derivative of ashi (feet or foot), a slang term for car. Hence asshii-kun is a man with a car who is an available chauffeur or a boyfriend to fix the gyaru's car.
- Benri-kun (便利くん):
Benri-kun is the sweet guy who's useful to have around. Benri (便利) means convenient or handy. Be a doll and pick up my dry cleaning, ok?
(the rest of the lowly ranks, in no particular order)
- Susshii-kun (寿司くん):
The man who goes out for (and pays for!) sushi.
- Nesshii-kun (寝しいくん):
Neshi comes from the the verb neru for sleep, hence a man for sleeping. Some might call this "a friend with benefits" or bed buddy.
- Koh'do-kun (コードくん):
Koh'do is from the English word cord (power cord, video cable). This is the geek friend kept around for tech support. He hooks up the DVD player and the computer.
A. Kasschau, S. Eguchi. Using Japanese Slang. Tokyo 112, Japan: Yenbooks, 1995.
Classmates, April 2004
Dr. Jim Breen, EDict for kanji I didn't know.