In the anime adaptation of the manga The Quintessential Quintuplets, as well as the corresponding manga, there are 2 terms 'nerd' was used but in the English dub.

Scene 1: S01E01

In the dub, 1 of the quints Ichika says to the male protagonist Fuutarou (same year) 'That was so manly, for a nerd.'

In the original for both the anime and manga, Ichika says 'ガリ勉くんのくせに男らしいこと言うじゃん'. (You can see here 0:20 - 0:25.)

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I'm guessing the 'nerd' here is 'ガリ勉(くん)' which in some anime subtitles is translated to 'studyholic'.

Scene 2: S01E08

Re the siblings Fuutarou and Raiha, Raiha (who is younger, if relevant) asks their dad if Fuutarou was not always a...

Anime Subtitles: ... a 'study freak'.

Manga English: ... a 'study monster'.

In the original for both the anime and manga, Raiha asks '前はこんな勉強オバケじゃなかったの?' (You can see 1:57 - 2:02 here.)

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In the anime dub, Raiha asks if 'there was a time when Fuutarou wasn't a huge nerd' ?

I'm guessing the 'nerd' here is '勉強オバケ' (or おばけ. see previous question) which in some anime subtitles is translated to 'studyholic'.


  1. What's the difference between ガリ勉(くん) and 勉強オバケ / 勉強おばけ ?

  2. Which is 'nerd' a fair translation of?


For 1:

ガリ勉(くん) is, as wiktionary says, 'someone who studies very hard', so you're like an above average student, while 勉強オバケ is to the point of scaring people hence 'monster'/'ghost' or freaking them out hence 'freak'.

For 2:

I have a feeling ガリ勉 can be translated as 'nerd' depends on the context, much like how 'OMG' can be used to express disgust or (positive) amazement depending on the context.

I don't know about 勉強オバケ, but saying someone is a 'study freak' or 'study ghost/monster' sounds stronger or even not really comparable than nerd. 'Nerd' I think has a context of being too invested but not necessarily freaking people out. On the other hand, being a freak or ghost/monster doesn't necessarily mean 'too invested'. It could even be a compliment (or both a compliment and an insult simultaneously?) like saying someone is a 'beast'.

2 Answers 2


ガリ勉 is a relatively old slang word that has been used since the mid-Showa era. It refers to someone who studies very hard and pays little attention to other things such as club activities and love. A ガリ勉 studies hard but their grades are not necessarily good. It is usually associated with a negative connotation. Both "nerd" and "book-smart" have slightly different meanings from ガリ勉, but these can be possible translations as long as the translator knows the character well and wants to emphasize the negative aspect of ガリ勉. A stereotypical ガリ勉くん looks like this.

-おばけ in this context is a relatively new humorous suffix meaning "◯◯ monster", "Mr. ◯◯" or something. It can attach to many words (e.g., 体力おばけ is someone who is very tough physically, メンタルおばけ is someone who is very tough mentally, 野球おばけ is someone who is extremely good at baseball, etc). ◯◯おばけ tends to be used positively, but it may be used negatively. 勉強おばけ has little to do with nerd.


Question 1: "gari" translates as "self-interest (我利)" so ガリ勉くん translates as "self-interested striving chap" which seems to be along the lines of "nerd".

Question 2: Let's look of the meaning of each part of the word monster, obakemono, which is like "great-transformed-thing". From that, we can probably derive 勉強オバケ to mean something like "someone who transforms when studying." The nuance here is that the person becomes something different, something... unhuman, when exposed to studying. Maybe grouchy, grumpy, intense? But probably not a nice friendly personality. Therefore, "nerd" maybe one way to take it but also "freak" ,"monster", "beast", too.

Question 3: What translates as nerd? There really isn't a simple answer for this, nerd is a realitively recent slang term, prolly shouldn't expect this type of word to translate 1-to-1 in other languages.

  • 2
    – Angelos
    Commented Sep 7, 2022 at 22:23
  • Well, I did edit it but it was pretty minor. The difference between garigari vs gari, that is. Since I got down voted I figured people might like this interpretation better.
    – Ragaroni
    Commented Sep 7, 2022 at 22:51
  • 1
    「ガリ勉とは『 ガリガリ勉強する人』を略したもの」 (日本語俗語辞書) で、「『我利勉』とも当てて書く。」(大辞泉) なので、「我利」は当て字ですから、「ガリ勉」に "self-interest" という意味はありません。また「ガリ勉」の「勉」は、 "striving" ではなく、「勉強」"studying" の略です
    – chocolate
    Commented Sep 10, 2022 at 14:15

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