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A recent development in modern Japan has been the appearance of the practice of enjo kosai, translated as "subsidized dating", "compensated dating", or "dating for assistance". Japanese girls, often still in high school or even junior high, make arrangements with older men who pay them for dates. The arrangements are usually made through telekura (telephone clubs) or merukura (email clubs).
While the arrangement is not explicitly for sexual services, the nature of the activity is such that such activities are known to occur with some regularity. Up until very recently, the low age of consent in many areas of Japan and the restricted legal definition of what constitutes prostitution has protected the participants from legal repercussions. Even with new laws, enjo kosai is still a widespread and controversial activity. To non Japanese this seems to be a form of softcore prostitution.
The high value in Japanese culture for youth, along with the incompatibility of Japanese consumer culture with the lowered economic prospects of the average family since the boom of the 80s collapsed, have been cited as driving forces. Enjo kosai has also been strongly identified in the public eye with the kogal subculture.
It is no surprise, then, that recent anime have begun to portray enjo kosai, particularly if it is trying to be a youth series, or socially relevant. The practice itself is rarely given a positive light, but the portrayal of the participants varies widely. A young girl is usually a sympathetic Hooker with a Heart of Gold variant, dealing with financial problems, emotional turmoil, or peer pressure. Ironically, if the young girl is shown to be in control or enjoying the situation it's a sure bet she'll be marked with the proverbial scarlet letter and written off as irredeemable.
Anime and Manga
- Great Teacher Onizuka had two episodes where Onizuka was persuaded to try enjo kosai, but was surprised by who shows up...
- Super Gals had one of the main characters, Aya, introduced as a perfect student engaging in enjo kosai in order to escape a high-pressure home and academic life. At the end, Ran helps her see her own self-worth before she "goes too far".
- There was an episode of Mariasama ga Miteru where one of the girls was suspected of engaging in enjo kosai. She was getting clothes and money from her father and brothers to spend time with them, because they missed her while she was living at an all girls school.
- In Mai-HiME, Nao Yuuki seems a delinquent type is alluded to engage in this. Later we find out she uses it as a hook to mug men, who cannot report the crime for obvious reasons. It's actually a sort-of revenge she takes on men, since a bunch of thugs killed her father and injured her mother.
- Takumi's girlfriend Natsuki in the original version of Initial D is engaged in enjo kosai from the start of the series. The English dub alters the plot so that she is just spending time with her divorced father.
- By the second session, Natsuki has subverted this trope by quitting her relationship with "Papa" which was endangering her budding relationship with Takumi. She decides to get a job at a fast-food restaurant, mimicking the hard-working job she sees Takumi engaging in at the gas station, when she realizes people are looking down on her for her slightly-whorish behaviour.
- Hell Girl shows this in the first episode, when Hashimoto Mayumi is blackmailed into earning money this way by Alpha Bitch Kuroda Aya, to try to make back the money that Mayumi was entrusted with and which Aya herself stole. This gets Mayumi into huge trouble when Aya decides to release photos of Mayumi in the grip of an older man to the school administration, which drives Mayumi to pull the red string and send Aya to Hell.
- Mako "Nakama" Nakarai, one of the girls in Bokurano, engages in enjo kosai to get money for something she needs to accomplish before she dies. However, she is steered away from it, and learns a lesson about her mother's past in the experience.
- The main character, "Sexy Voice", of Sexy Voice And Robo was engaged in something like this at the beginning of the series
- Puni Puni Poemi very briefly showed a Gyaru on a subsi-date before violently showing her the error of her ways.
- Manga example: In Kobato., the titular character is approached by a businessman wanting to be 'healed' When Fujimoto intervenes, he berates Kobato, believing her to be engaging in this practice—she, being the Naive Everygirl, doesn't know what he's talking about.
- Subverted in Karin - Kenta sees Karin in a park embracing an older man and assumes she is engaging in enjo kosai. However, because Karin is a vampire, she was actually biting his neck.
- Ranma ½
- In a unique variation, Nabiki Tendo will often accept date offers and invitations from classmates who don't know any better, will then fleece them for all they're worth during the date, and then she blackmails them with their own love letters to her. As it is, she's feared by all who have dated her, and she comes out much, much richer from the experience.
In an anime only story, Nabiki also agrees to go out with Tofu in order to get his mother to stop bugging him about getting married. She charges him pretty reasonably for the dating, but then 'reminds' him that it wouldn't be very convincing if he didn't spend a lot of money on the dates.
In one truly bizarre instance, Nabiki met someone who was just as selfish, manipulating and greedy as she was. They agreed to a challenge where they would go on a date, and the first to actually spend money was the loser. The entire event was them constantly foisting bills on each other and skipping out on paying out for themselves.
- Ranma does this to a lesser degree, one time in the anime he accepted a date for free eats and a boat ride, Akane came up behind him (technically her) and hit him on the head with a mallet. He also does this to acquire things like information or items from people like Tatewaki.
- Princess Nine: When Huge Schoolgirl / Delinquent Seira Morimura is recruited for the baseball team, she mistakes the seedy-looking coach's offer of "recruitment" for Enjo Kosai. . When she relizes the truth she is half relived and half livid. "I thought I was.. Well nevermind what I thought I was coming here for!!"
- Hell Teacher Nube: "Itako-girl" Izuna Hazuki. Nube himself mistakes her for a kogal at first sight. Unusual in that, instead of indulging in compensated dating, she sells her services as an oracle and general spiritualist but she's not above taking risqué pictures of herself and selling them.
- Anzu was suspected to be one of these in the original version of Yu-Gi-Oh!. It turned out that it wasn't exactly what they were expecting to be.
- In Chu-Bra Given Nayu's tendency to wear panties totally unlike most girls her age and her frequent conversations with an older man (actually her stepbrother), this is what she was accused of.
- Samaritan Girl shows that the phenomenon isn't limited to Japan, and also exists in South Korea.
- The movie Bounce Kogals, being about a group of kogal friends, also use this trope.
- In Hideaki Anno's 1998 movie Love & Pop, the main character, a 16-year-old high school girl named Hiromi, goes on subsidized dates in order to purchase a ring she adores.
- In Shunji Iwai's film All About Lily Chou Chou, Shiori Tsuda, a female classmate, is blackmailed by Shusuke Hoshino into enjo-kōsai.
- Breakfast at Tiffany's: Audrey Hepburn did it first. This was her occupation. Though how much was censorship and how much was Getting Crap Past the Radar is left as an exercise for the reader.
- In Shusaku Endo's Scandal, the main character befriends a thirteen year old girl who has taken up compensated dating and tries to get her out of it; he discovers, however, that a doppelganger of himself may be taking advantage of the girl.
Live Action TV
- Its not just in Japanese Anime anymore but also was a case in Taiwan Drama Brown Sugar Macchiato. The brothers in order to help the boy students overthrow the matriarchy in their class attempted to catch the Alpha Bitch in a scandalous act which was related to this trope. Needless to say it sorta worked until she reveals it was her uncle who she was visiting.
- In the Japanese dorama God, Please Give Me More Time, a young woman engages in the activity and suffers social and physical costs. In the end, however, the heroine is able to turn her life around and seems to project a positive image for youth.
- Rare male example: In Gungrave, suave, handsome Harry MacDowell is shown, as a teenager, taking money for dates from rich boarding-school girls.
- Speculation has it that Aerith from Final Fantasy VII participated in this.
- Yandere Simulator features Kokona Haruka, who engages in this, and which the game's Villain Protagonist Ayano "Yandere-chan" Aishi can either use against her by spreading malicious gossip to ruin her reputation, or learn her very sad motivations to do so and help her get out of it.
- Megatokyo: Junko from has been observed engaged in apparent enjo kosai, taking money from an older man after a dinner. However, since Fred Gallagher is American, this is given a rather neutral light.
- In the now-deceased online manga Music Box, the Alpha Bitch and local ko-gal Maika Sakura engages into this. She's caught by her classmate Kazuki Kirio and flat out admits it. The Japanese/American author mentions the practice and how she had a friend whose sister was caught by the police while in enjo kosai.