The Meaning of Sugoi Dekai: What It Is and How To Use It

This guide will give you all the information you require on the Japanese phrase sugoi dekai, including its meaning, use in popular culture, origin, and more!

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What is the definition of sugoi dekai?

Sugoi dekai is a Japanese phrase that means “So big!” in English. It is commonly used to have a similar meaning to the English word, “Great!” The word great also technically means big, or large, but is colloquially used to mean fantastic, awesome, or terrific. Sugoi dekai has become somewhat of a meme in English, as can be gathered by its popular article on Know Your Meme.

Sugoi dekai is used almost exactly like the English word great, which in its origins from old English means tall, massive, or big, similarly to its West Germanic root of the same meaning, grauta, according to Etymonline. It came to popularity in its use as excellent or wonderful around 1848, and since then, has been overshadowed by the words big and large to describe things that are massive. There even used to be a verb in Middle English, greaten, which meant to become larger, but that became archaic after the 17th century.

Overall, sugoi dekai should be thought of exactly like the English exclamation “Great!” and can be used in the same way.

What is the origin of the phrase sugoi dekai?

The phrase sugoi dekai originated in the anime Uzaki-chan Wants To Hang Out! In which the titular heroine anime character Uzaki Hana, a shorter woman with large breasts, wears a shirt with the phrase sugoi dekai, meant as a joke. According to Fandom, she has an energetic personality, and is confident and playful, and often annoys her classmate Shinichi Sakurai. She has short silver hair, and usually wears a short light blue shkirt, black tights, and brown boots with her famous sugoi dekai shirt. The popularity of this character led to an explosion of internet edits and memes made using the sugoi dekai shirt, and was often combined with other larger-chested anime characters, like Mega Milk.

Uzaki-chan originally began as a manga, which debuted in December 2017. The anime adaptation, Uzaki-chan Wants To Hang Out!, directed by Kazuya Miura, premiered in July 2020. After its release, many artists began to draw characters in Uzaki’s famous sugoi dekai shirt. This became popular on social media websites like Twitter.

Many took issue with the fact that the character of Uzaki looked so young, and believed that the artists were sexualizing young girls. Those who felt it was inappropriate often took matters into their own hands, redrawing the character with an older look and more realistic anatomy.

This redrawing led to others creating even more trending meta memes, in which people who felt the redraws were ridiculous and unnecessary since Uzaki is a college student and of consenting age, put sugoi dekai shirts on other famous characters, like Peter Griffin from Family Guy, or in the style of popular cartoons Rick and Morty or Big Mouth.

The phrase and character have become so popular that people can even purchase their own sugoi dekai shirt, long sleeve baseball t-shirts and hoodies on websites like Etsy, alongside merchandise featuring Uzaki herself.

Many people have begun to cosplay with such merchandise, popping on a short silver wig, short blue skirt, and black tights to complete their Uzaki Hana ensemble. Many may be seen wearing cosplay outfits like this to anime conventions like Anime Expo.

Anime has become increasingly popular in the west, alongside is graphic novel counterpart manga. Anime has been in the United States for a long time, but many did not consider cartoons like Speed Racer to be Japanese until it was pointed out.

In the 1990s, the Pokémon explosion hit, and children were obsessed. As young children grew more and more fascinated by children’s anime like Pokémon, teens and adults turned to their own brand of more mature anime. They could watch anime with subtitles or read translated manga to immerse themselves in Japanese culture, according to The State Press.

Now, many fans of anime can find it on streaming services like Netflix or Hulu, which each have entire categories dedicated to anime. They can also watch anime on anime-only streaming services like Crunchyroll, which has become increasingly popular since its inception. Anime coming into mainstream western media has allowed for phrases like sugoi dekai to come into the English vernacular.

What does sugoi dekai look like in Japanese?

In Japanese hiragana, which is the phonetic spelling version of Japanese, the Japanese word sugoi dekai is represented by the characters すごい でかい.This directly translates to “it’s huge” or “so big” in English. However, similar to the English word “great,” which can also mean huge or big, its most common usage is to denote something as amazing or wonderful.

Hiragana is a phonetic writing system in Japanese like katakana, unlike kanji. Kanji are a system of symbols to represent entire ideas, phrases, or words. According to Nihongo Master, the kanji can have very different meanings or pronunciations depending on their context.

While Kanji are believed to have originated in China, no one knows when they were first written. Originally in the first modern kanji from 1600 BC, these were meant to be pictograms, though over time they evolved to look nothing like the original picture. Japanese did not adopt kanji until the earth 5th century when Japan had no written language of its own. Over time, the Japanese began to edit the Chinese characters to adjust for pronunciation and make them make sense with Japanese grammar. From this, hiragana and katakana stemmed.

Overall, the phrase sugoi dekai has a rough translation to the word great in English. Both of them technically mean big, or so big, but have adopted colloquial used to mean wonderful, amazing, or fantastic.

Sources:

  1. https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/sugoi-dekai
  2. https://uzaki-chan.fandom.com/wiki/Hana_Uzaki
  3. https://www.etsy.com/market/sugoi_dekai
  4. https://www.nihongomaster.com/blog/what-is-kanji/
  5. https://www.anime-expo.org/
  6. https://www.etymonline.com/word/great
  7. https://www.statepress.com/article/2020/10/specho-americas-nuanced-and-evolving-relationship-with-anime