You hear it all the time in anime, a girl is running down a hallway and a butler or maid calls out from behind “Ojou-sama! You forgot your book/wallet/phone/breakfast!” Running out the door, she heads off to school or to meet friends. What does ojou-sama mean? Why not call her by her first or last name? Let’s chat up linguistics and see what the core meaning is.
Well, “Ojou” by itself in Japanese means daughter and when used as just “ojou” it implies that it’s someone else’s daughter. So to save oneself, “san” which is a more polite suffix, is often attached. However sometimes, it can also imply a young lady. Well, when you look at patriarchal Japanese history or the fact that women are always put down before men, it implies that by calling someone “ojou-san” that they are an archaic stereotype of a girl. How to beat this? Attach “-sama.”
By attaching it and making the term “ojou-sama” you are raising that person’s status while maintaining a level of politeness and friendliness. When is ojou-sama used? Well, a quick look is usually in families that are very well to do. Ojou-sama also implies that the girl is from a rich family. Where can we see a girl like this? Just about anywhere and in most anime. Ojou-sama is a tried and true archetype. Here in this article, we are going to take a look at where and how you can find and see ojou-sama and how it affects the relationship of everyone around them.
All Ojou-sama are on top of their game…Not!
When you encounter an ojou-sama you will know. They are very aware of their surroundings and walk with a purpose. They may have a slow walk, but do not be fooled. They know exactly where they are going and they will arrive exactly when they are supposed to. They will not be questioned either. Exemplars of grace, innocence, and class, they are everywhere. Sometimes, though, that innocence can be doled out a little too heavily. Yet, they also can serve as gags especially when they don’t understand or pay attention fully. Where would we see one? Oh right! Hit, Winter 2016 Anime Oshiete! Galko-chan.
Oshiete! Galko-chan (Please tell me! GALKO-chan)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2016 – March 2016
Oshiete! Galko-chan follows three girls, Galko, a gyaru looking girl, Otako, a bookish looking girl, and Ojou, which as the name implies, is an Ojou-sama. Together they discuss life’s mysteries like can riding a horse break your hymen, are your eyebrows the same color as your pubic hair, or issues with breastfeeding and motherhood. Sounds pretty interesting right? Well, it’s upbeat and bright, and ironically Galko-chan delivers things in a manner that no matter the topic, you want to stay and listen more while chuckling to yourself. Set in a school, this anime focuses on the conversations that students have amongst each other while learning more.
Ojou. Good ole ojou. As her name implies, she is an Ojou-sama. Well to do and meaning well, she often participates with Galko and Otako in discussions… Unfortunately for her, she always never seems to pay attention to the context at hand and immediately everyone begins to misunderstand her while she never catches what she is saying until it is too late. One prime example would be the episode where they are talking about hymens being able to be broken while riding horses. Ojou is not paying attention fully and comprehending the context and meaning well, blurts out that she has never bled while riding a horse.
The boys immediately all assume that Ojou is loose and lewd for admitting that she is not a virgin. Poor Ojou is completely misunderstood but she leaves the viewer in stitches. Not to mention too, Ojou enjoys delicious handmade lunches prepared by their house’s personal chef. Be sure to check her out as she is one of the unique types of Ojou-sama!
Oshiete! Galko-chan Trailer
They are swimming in the ￥￥￥￥￥Yenz￥￥￥￥￥, Have Loads of Money and Go to an All Girls School
Another major archetype of an ojou-sama as stated above is an anime character who goes to an all-girls school where supposedly the manners are par none, everyone is friendly, and everyone is very close. Many ojou-sama do exist as such. They are loaded, or rather their family is, and this allows them to go to some form of boarding school. How do we protect our girls from the outside world without being overtly creepy about it? Oh, let’s make it an all-girls one! The need to keep up their images as well so with shows for example, like Maria-sama ga miteru or Maria Holic, almost all of the girls at the school are demure, friendly, and sweet. One show, though, showcases that these girls, even when put in said educational environment, can still have quite a different setting.
To Aru Kakagu no Railgun (A Certain Scientific Railgun)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: October 2009 - March 2010
A spin-off of the great meta-series, To Aru Majutsu no Index (A Certain Magical Index), Railgun follows around THE railgun of the city and the third strongest esper in all of Gakuen city, Mikoto Misaka. Flanked by her best friends, loving Judgment officer Kuroko Shirai, Level Zero Ruiko Saten and Sweetheart Kazari Uiharu, Railgun follows these four girls and their adventures as they combat crime in their city. Did we neglect to mention that this is a city and universe where many people are able to use their powers to combat crime while others use it to commit crime? Interesting indeed!
Mikoto Misaka is the central ojou-sama in this series. Showered with constant praise and affection by Kuroko, Mikoto does her best to enjoy her everyday life. She goes to a very, very, very well to do all-girls school called Tokiwadai and even shares a room with Kuroko. Kuroko uses nothing but polite Japanese to address Mikoto which is another indicator of Mikoto’s status. However what makes Mikoto such a good “Ojou-sama” is that she never once throws around her status or money in front of others. This is what would be considered a bad ojou-sama or an ice queen ojou-sama. A good Ojou-sama will always have good manners. Combine that with the love that she carries in her heart for her friends and her willingness to go the extra mile even for random strangers, and it’s no wonder why Kuroko desires to be closer to Mikoto. Don’t take our word for it though, check it out!
For when you need a good stereotype, there’s plenty around
Sometimes, while looking at the whole picture is fun and seeing the different variations that exist, the best way to do things is to look at what is the core idea. Money. Wealth. A slip up sometimes. A dash of Tsundere. What else could possibly make the idea of an ojou-sama drive home better?
Hayate no Gotoku! (Hayate the Combat Butler)
- Episodes: 52
- Aired: April 2007 – March 2008
Hayate Ayasaki is unfortunately down on his luck. His parents have amassed a huge debt and skipped town while dumping it all on him. By chance, he ends up saving a little girl who is being kidnapped. Little does he know that she is Nagi Sanzenin. After a few more tropes are played out, Nagi offers him a job as her personal butler. For where exactly? Oh her mansion overflowing with money, her pet tiger, a staff that waits on her hand and foot, and more.
Nagi is the quintessential ojou-sama and the core for what the archetype looks like. Why? Well, she is a shrewd businesswoman. She has, of course, a house flowing in cash. She has a pet tiger. She has a personal butler and maid who wait on her, but what does she need? Another one. Why? Because she can. Nagi has Hayate work for her and keeps her safe as well from people who may wish to do her harm. What else? Oh well, she is so rich, if she bought the national debt of most major countries, it would be but a drop in the bucket. How is the deal sweetened? She’s got a tsundere streak.
The weakness of all ojou-sama. At some point or another, she needs to get the things that she wants. She does this by acting shy and playing others for the fool. Tragically, though, she does have an issue with being true to herself. However, that is not an issue because even though she completely skips school, she is hyper-intelligent having skipped three grades already from the most prestigious school in all of Toyko. So check off your checklist because Nagi hits all of them! Nagi is not an ojou-sama you want to mess with, but rather one you want to serve.
Ojou-sama are everywhere. Watching you. Judging you. (Final Thoughts)
Just kidding! Ojou-sama are perfectly nice wonderful people. Well, they should be normally. That’s not to say that you will not find a few rotten apples here and there. Ojou-sama are usually overflowing in cash, manners, grace and more! Who is your favorite ojou-sama? Do you have more than one? Let us know in the comments below! Till next time!