An Obentoh. Photo by by miwappeA
           おべんとう (Obentoh)  As it reads, it's the phonemes for お弁当, a noun that Japanese use to refer to 'Boxed Lunch '. As the noun, it can refer to the container or to the meal that said box contains. But to the world of Japanese internet memes, this word has a third  meaning: "The highly exploitable change of text joke originating from Rockman X 6". Since it is the ever romantically driven holiday of Valentine's Day, it is time for some exposition for a particularly love slanted Rockman meme.

_                  First, the game context. At the start of Rockman X 6's storyline, Irregular Hunter Zero has been missing for over three weeks as a results of the events from the last game and is presumed dead. X takes up a beam saber and continues to keep the peace against Irregulars in his friend's memory. But in an odd fashion lacking any good logical footing, Zero makes an abrupt and triumphant return early on into the game narrative:

The Original
(thanks to Joseph for the screenshot)
_           This is suppose to be a moving scene of the heart felt reunion of two Brothers in Arms.  But as you can clearly see, X's and Zero's facial expression seem to be doing something else.  First we have Zero trying to give off a calm confident smile, but is clearly doing a horrible job as it does not hide the fact that he is blushing.  Then we have X's facial response, a positively ecstatic gape far more fitting of someone who just received an "awesome Christmas present" than someone who just found out his best friend is actually alive and well.

Now with the "loving lunch" quote.
               So with that, an intrepid Japanese netizen got the idea of grabbing the image of X's and Zero's reunion and replacing Zero words with this line: 「オマエのために はやおきして おべん とうつくってきたんだ」. This would be purely phonetic Japanese which translates to "I woke up early to make this box lunch for you".  First appearing on Japan's Message Board Giant 2 channel, it to this day gets much play in various Rockman X threads

As demonstrated here, feeding
the lunch adds to the effectiveness
of the obentoh love ritual.
_               The humor is the gesture. Among the Japanese (at least the one we see in the fiction Japanese write about themselves), giving home-made food is a kind of lovers courtship ritual.  The food, and the effort to make it, becomes a symbol of love in this scenario.  On the more practical side, this move also functions as the giver's attempt to impress their beloved with their homemaking skills. Given that X and Zero are already considered by many to be "too close" with each other as it is, the combination of lovey dovey text to the befitting facial expressions made this solid meme material.

悪乗り2 by Hizo
         Spread of this meme is slow, but persistent. Although the earliest instance of it I was able to locate dates back to 2008, references and derivatives relating to it are made even today. Any search of Lunch Box and Rockman in Japanese yields points back to this, just try a Google web or image search. It's common for Nico Nico Video Comments with that X6 cut scene to be littered with cries of おべんとう, so naturally there is an entry in the Nico Nico Pedia.  The tag for "Boxed Lunch" over in Pixiv is almost exclusively centered around this meme.

Building On The Story

Template by: 黒えあ
        The basic image has also been rendered as an exploitable.  Copying the awkward expressions of X and Zero and attributing them to other "loving couples", has become a popular past time for humorous effect for artistic Japanese Netizens.  To help the spread, 黒えあ has even produced this easy to swap in image background so anyone can take in on the fun.

Examples of the Exploitable:

           I guess if there is any sort of "moral" to take away from all this insanity, is that food can certainly be a way to a person's heart.  Or at the very least, it is a good segway for hilarity at X's and Zero's expense.  Happy Valentine's Day to all of you and hopefully you people are too busy enjoying this night to be seeing this until tomorrow.


03/11/2012 2:53pm

X. Zero. No homo.


Leave a Reply.