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Him: I will definitely protect you!
Seen often in anime and manga, "Zettai ni mamoru" is almost always literally translated as "I will definitely protect you" and is usually spoken by a male to a female. It's a Japanese Stock Phrase that sounds weird and stilted when translated literally, as the above exchange demonstrates.
"zettai" can mean, "definitely," "absolutely" or "unconditionally." "mamoru" can mean "to protect" or "to defend" or "to obey". So, depending on context, it could mean one of several things:
- As an offhand statement, it can mean pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a macho boast of "I will definitely protect you!" (Optionally followed by manly flexing.)
- Used in a serious tone, it's equivalent to a promise of "I've got your back" or "they'll have to go through me first" depending on the situation.
- Used in a tender or personal conversation means something like, "I will always be there for you." (it seems to also be considered a very serious commitment to your partner in this context.)
You'll probably see it most often in Unwanted Harem comedies. The boy and the girl don't exactly have the same feelings towards each other. He thinks it's a friendly relationship. She is secretly in love with him. Our oblivious hero boasts, "I will definitely protect you!" Our confused heroine thinks he is confessing his life-long devotion to her. She will have an Inner Monologue, or occasionally even say out loud, "Why would he say something like that to me?" or "Don't say things that can be misunderstood!" Hilarity Ensues.
Used more straight in series where a male lead Takes A Level In Bad Ass. After he says "I will definitely protect you" to the girl, their relationship has changed and he will now start to take a bigger role as the series' resident Badass. (Although if he happens to be the Badass in an Unwanted Harem series... seeing a pattern here?)
In an actual romantic context, it's a very intimate promise to always be there for your partner; possibly to the extent of the equivalent of a marriage proposal depending on the scene. And even more confusing to English-speakers to leave it literally translated as "I will definitely protect you" than the previous two examples.
See now how it can be the perfect setup for a Comedic Misunderstanding between Our Hero and Heroine?
Because the meaning is very much based on context, it actually makes sense to translate it literally and leave it there. Giving it the correct contextual translation would completely miss the point of the original misunderstanding. However if someone is not familiar with the full potential of the native phrase, you're going to wind up confused as to why there is a misunderstanding in the first place. (It's questionable if translators actually think about this aspect or just go with a literal translation.)
"Zettai ni mamoru" is not to be confused with Zenyatta Mondatta, which is something quite different.
Please note, this entry was created by an English-speaker who started investigating its meaning after seeing it so frequently and being just as confused as our traditional heroine, so if he got anything horribly wrong, he will definitely accept full blame.
Anime & Manga
- Kenshin gives several of them, but the biggest is to Tomoe.
Kenshin: The happiness you lost during this chaos, this time... I will protect it for you.
- Ai Yori Aoshi: Used between Kaoru and Aoi to show how close their relationship is. (In an interesting inversion of roles, Aoi also says it to Kaoru to show how serious she is about being with him.)
- Black Cat: Train lets Kyoko know he will definitely protect her after her Heel Face Turn, as long as she keeps her promise not to hurt anyone anymore. (Although she's already got quite a crush on Train, she doesn't misunderstand his serious meaning.)
- Bleach : After Ichigo is unable to protect Orihime from an Arrancar attack and she's severely wounded, he's seriously depressed. Rukia realizes this and has the two talk it out, concluding on Ichigo promising Orihime that he will become stronger, and then he'll protect her at any costs. He means this so much that, when she's kidnapped by the Arrancars, he goes into a Roaring Rampage of Rescue... and when he dies via Ulquiorra, his Hollow completely takes over him... and in this state, his biggest instinct is to protect Orihime no matter what.
- And ever since they were kids, Hitsugaya repetedly told his adoptive sister Hinamori thar he'd always protect her. Did NOT go as planned, via Aizen's epic trolling. But they get better after some time.
- Renton will definitely protect Eureka!
- Shinn says this several times to Stella in Gundam Seed Destiny.
- Used and abused in Hayate the Combat Butler, where Chaste Hero Hayate uses this on his Tsundere Ojou Nagi. Nagi has a crush on him, and believes that he initiated the relationship. Neither of them ever bother to check for confirmation on meaning. Hilarity Ensues.
- Of course Hayate's innocent naivety leaves him completely oblivious to any possible implications so he keeps saying it...
- In episode 23 of Heroman Joey tries to tell this Lina, but while the viewers can just hear him, the helicopter that's come for him drowns him out, and as a result Lina couldn't hear him. However, if the scene where she leaves her house is any indication, she pretty much knew that that's what he was trying to tell her.
- I''s Ichitaka: "I will protect Iori-chan for my entire life!"
- Ichigo 100%: Manaka says to Satsuki, "I will protect you to the full extent of my abilities!" (meaning against the pervs in the Film Studies Club). She blushes and thinks to herself, "He just said he was going to protect me ... what the hell was he talking about!"
- In Id, Id does this with Ilrina here.
- Inumimi: Yuichro says it to Rino when she is mad at him for not adequately protecting the house. Of course she is flustered that he would say such a thing.
- Inuyasha: While it's not the exact phrase, the verb mamoru is used, complete with subtext, shortly after Inuyasha acquires the Tetsusaiga, when he is fighting Sesshoumaru. After Kagome starts to cry at the fact that Sesshoumaru could quite possibly kill her, Inuyasha responds by saying, "Shut up! I'm saying I'll protect you!" This leads Kagome to wonder, "did he really just say he'd protect me?"
- Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl: Tomari to Hazumu, several times, possibly foreshadowing the ending
- Liar Game: Said to Nao by Akiyama at the beginning of the second revival round.
- Not to mention a bit of Ship Tease there.
- This sort of thing happens in Mahou Sensei Negima a lot; Negi is very adamant about protecting his students.
- Setsuna. Obviously the first one given what she does but everyone else attaches the second one. It's the reason she was chosen in the first place.
- My Balls: Kohta is feeling cocky after losing his virginity and says this to Elyse when demons take over the town
- Naruto Uzumaki from Naruto has a tendency to want to protect everyone, especially his love interest Sakura from danger.
- Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea: An adorable, innocent usage of the third type:
Sosuke: Don't worry Ponyo, I will always protect you. I promise.
- RahXephon: This is a major theme and, in SRW MX, one of Ayato's battle quites is him yelling this (doesn't have the "definitely" part but Hot Blood compensates).
- Rosario to Vampire: Tsukune says it a few times to the harem after he starts getting his Bad Ass Power Up, mostly with the second meaning, but leaning towards the third when he says it to Moka.
- Shana frequently says this of her Battle Couple partner, Yuji.
- To Love Ru: Rito causes much confusion amongst the Unwanted Harem with this phrase
- Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru: Luka to Yuki.
- In Video Girl Ai, Youta says "I will protect you, no matter what!" as he's trying to protect Ai from being destroyed by Mai. Very much a combination of #2 and #3, since he's taking a beat-down while telling Mai that he wants to be with Ai forever.
- Zero no Tsukaima
- In the Sands of Destruction manga, Badass Adorable Toppi tells Kyrie this when they're first introduced in the manga. He continues to tell him this and be protective of him all because he showed him compassion despite the fact he was the one thirsty after wandering the desert for three days. The trend continues in the anime and video game.
- Female to female example: Homura said this to Madoka in Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
Homura: "No matter how many times I must repeat it, I will save you from the depth of despair."
- Non-romantic example: Seiichirou Aoki in the X 1999 movie tells Nataku during their fight "I will protect those I love" ("boku wa aisuru mono wa mamoritai!" is his more or less literal phrase). And pulls a Taking You with Me. Which in this context is more like a Stupid Sacrifice, sadly.
- Played with in chapter 58 of Kaichou wa Maid-sama; after their mutual Love Confession, Usui tells Misaki that being with him is likely to make trouble for her and he "can't say anything as irresponsible as 'I'll definitely protect you,'" but he still wants to be with her because he loves her. Misaki gets mad at him for thinking she wants to be protected, and says that she will protect him.
- In Wild Rock, Emba swears to devote his life to protecting Yuuen and promises that his soul will continue to even after he dies.
- Endou tends to utter this on occasion in the Inazuma Eleven anime. Except instead of the subject being a female character, he's usually referring to either the goal or a one-point lead. This is "the universe's number one soccer freak" we're talking about here.
- In episode 8 of D.N.Angel Saehara says this to Kurashima Menou. And in episode 26 Daisuke says this to Riku.
- A plantonic version occurs in Eyeshield 21 when linesman Banba says to his quarterback Harou, who knows he's an average player at best and is frightened by the extreme power of their next opponent the Hakushuu Dinosaurs who are known for breaking the opposing quarterbacks. While the Taiyo Sphinx ultimately lost, Banba kept his promise to make sure that Harou wouldn't be harmed at the cost of him being badly hurt by Gaou.
- In The Breaker, protagonist Shi Woon says something along this line to Sosul while attempting to rescue her from a gang of complete monsters. Shi Woon didn't mean it romantically, but eventually Sosul develops a crush on him because of it.
- In Dissidia Final Fantasy, this is the Onion Knight's promise to Terra, as an allusion to Locke.
- It also turns out that Vaan had made a similar promise to her after rescuing her from Kefka's control in the twelfth cycle. Even though she has no memory of this as a result of the purification process performed by Shinryu in the initiation of the thirteenth cycle, something clearly resonated within Terra with this promise.
- In the Japanese dialogue of the first Ryuusei no Rockman game, Subaru (as Rockman) says the exact phrase to a scared Luna. (It's definitely the serious tone variety, as he doesn't show much romantic interest in Luna, but he's constantly bent on making sure his friends don't get hurt.) In the English Mega Man Star Force, it was translated as "I'll protect you! Count on it!"
- In Tales of Innocence, Luca defends Iria when she is accused of betraying the group by Chitose. Spada also pulls this with Luca throughout the entire game, and becomes dead set on it after Luca is stabbed and in a coma for days.
- Luke and Tear have a scene like around this phrase during the catalyst weapons sidequest in Tales of the Abyss.
- Pretty much the ENTIRE THEME of Tales of Graces, especially prelevant with Asbel's Failure Knight status and his promise to protect Sophie and Richard. The characters, both male and female, will be saying "mamoru" so often that you can make a drinking game out of it. The opening theme song is even titled "Mamoritai ~ White Wishes".
- Girls Love version: said by Uzuki to Kei in the Visual Novel Akai Ito. Heck yeah, Uzuki's route is all about her keeping this promise and Kei believing in her no matter what!
- Aoi Shiro has a similar promise of protection on Yasumi's route.
- Western Example: In Dragon Age: Origins, you can say this to Morrigan after defeating (for now) Flemeth and preventing her from potentially hijacking her body.
- Inverted by Siskier in Blaze Union when Garlot is worrying that his friends might be hurt or killed in the escalating battles they face--she tells him it will be all right because she knows he'll protect everyone.
- This Exalted errata (scroll down to Resonance and Lunar Mates), which is also an (extremely rare) Crowning Moment of Heartwarming of the Abyssal Exalted. That's right, declaring "I Will Definitely Protect You" to his or her Lunar mate allows an Abyssal to turn against his or her undead Eldritch Abomination master.
- In, of all places, Seussical, Horton the Elephant has one of the more badass lines in musical theatre. After a series of very bad occurrences, with him left looking after an egg, he gives us this line. While the impact is lessened out of context, coming where it does in the show it's actually a Tear Jerker.
"Who would have thought, you'd be left up to me? A fool of an elephant, up in a tree. Well this time I swear I'll do better than try! I'll protect you from harm.... Yes I'll do it or die."
- In The Cat and the Canary, Paul emphatically tells Anna "I'll protect you" the first time they are alone with each other. He says he's not afraid of anything, but he's easily scared.
- At the end of the original Densha Otoko thread, Train_Man says about Hermes:
"If anything ever does happen, I'll protect her so it's 0k"
- Although since nouns and pronouns are usually dropped in Japanese whenever they can be inferred from context, it can also mean "I'll definitely protect him/her/it" depending on context.