While I was rereading the new Caliborn pages today, I noticed something that I’d completely missed the first time. Namely, a joke involving one of the Japanese phrases Caliborn uses: “doujinshi man gaka.” Now, maybe this joke/pun was supposed to be totally obvious, I’m just slow on the uptake, and this post will elicit “well, duh”s. But I figure there must be some other baka gaijin like me out there who missed out on it completely, so I’m going to (perhaps unnecessarily) explain it until all the humor is leeched out. Here we go. Caliborn describes himself as a “(doujinshi) man gaka” twice:
Now, my first time reading these pages, I activated my twin powers of Using Context Clues and Wanting To Read Fast; I assumed that “doujinshi man gaka” meant something along the lines of “anime guy” and kept going. But when I read through the pages for the second time, I decided that I’d try to find out what the phrase actually means. So I fired up Google Translate:
"Doujinshi" is a general term for a self-published work (translated as "fanzine" by Google). And "man gaka" means… "ten thousand painter?" …O-okay. Is it trying to invoke, like, an ego thing? Caliborn thinks he’s as talented as ten thousand painters in one? Or maybe "man gaka" is an idiom or slang that Google isn’t hip enough to recognize. Oh well, at least I tried. But just before I gave up on my translation endeavor, I remembered something relevant.
Caliborn tends to split compound words in two. So, going on a hunch, I tried deleting the space between “man” and “gaka.”
"Man gaka" is a nonsense phrase, but "mangaka" means manga artist. Caliborn tried to apply his "splitting compound words" quirk here in order to emphasize the "manliness" of being a manga artist. But since "mangaka" is a transliteration of a Japanese word and not a compound English word, this tweak made the entire phrase lose its meaning.
Ultimately, this silly little wordplay works as a great (and I imagine deliberate) metaphor for a subset of the many, many things wrong with Caliborn. He makes a very conscious effort to play up and single out the “man” part of his personality, but he doesn’t realize (or maybe just doesn’t acknowledge) how destructive and toxic this is. Because in the process of emphasizing this one aspect of his identity, he makes this identity as a whole become unintelligible and broken.
What a baka.