May 23, 2016

This is sad

"J-Pop Idol Mayu Tomita Stabbed by Fan in Tokyo"

He stabbed her 20 times, including once in the neck. The only reason she didn't die immediately is that he was using a pocket knife. But there isn't anything else good about it. Depending on what he hit in her neck, it may be impossible for her to fully recover. With that many wounds it may be impossible anyway, and even if she can it'll take a long time.

Anyway, according to the report she hasn't regained consciousness, which is never a good sign.

(Note: there are apparently two idols with this name. This isn't the one who is in AKB48; this is the one who starred in the show "Secret Girls".)

UPDATE: Of course, there isn't anything new about rabid fans; ask John Lennon or Jodi Foster. But it's still sad when it happens.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 06:27 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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May 16, 2016

Japanese -- firing mode


This frame comes from the second-to-last episode of GATE. Paratroopers are about to relieve the Rose Knights defending the Jade Palace and this soldier is about to open up on the legionaries. And we see him flip that switch to its upright position.

That rifle has a triple-burst mode (we see Kuribayashi using the triple-burst mode in the last episode) and clearly that's what the "3" means. It's the other symbol, on the top, I'm curious about. What is that symbol and what does it mean?

It's possible it's タ ta in katakana. It's also possible it's 夕 which is a kanji that seems to be pronounced yuube and means "evening". But I'm not sure about either of them because they aren't exactly the same as what's in that image. I'm assuming the symbol on the rifle means "full auto" but I can't figure out how to get there from that symbol.

Anyone know?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 02:19 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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March 01, 2016


In Gate there's something Itami says a few times that means variously "Move out!" "Fire!" or more generally "carry out your orders!" It sounds to me like mae and I assume it's the imperative form of some verb, but I can't figure out what it is. Anyone have any idea?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 01:14 PM | Comments (12) | Add Comment
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February 11, 2016

Coming soon to a futuristic anime near you: The Sky Mile Tower

There are plans and then there are plans. Sometimes "plans" are little more than trial balloons to see if investors are interested, and I suspect that's what this is.

If approved the huge tower would be the tallest building in the world, dwarfing the current record-holder, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai which is half as tall at 2,717ft (828m).

Located in Tokyo Bay, an inlet southeast of the city proper, the plan — dubbed Next Tokyo — wouldn't just be a single massive building, but if approved would emerge as a mini city designed to combat climate change.

The proposed high-high skyscraper would house up to 55,000 people - the size of a large British town.

Envisioned as part of Tokyo's effort to protect itself from rising tides, Next Tokyo would feature a chain of man-made, hexagon-shaped islands.

They would form a barrier to protect Japan's capital from flooding as well as provide the foundation for homes for some 500,000 people. They could be connected by Hyperloop, Elon Musk's high-speed transit system. (SCDB: Yeah, right. I'll believe it when I see it.)

The centerpiece of the plan, is the 5,577-foot-tall skyscraper slated for completion in 2045. It's currently being called the Sky Mile Tower and is similarly hexagon-shaped for optimal wind resistance.

The engineering challenge is obvious just from the proposed height. The fact that they want to build it in an active earthquake zone, which regularly gets powerful typhoons, makes it all the more interesting.

And some of the things they're talking about: As for elevators? They'll be ones of the cable-free variety, which can move both vertically and horizontally.

So I don't expect this thing to actually happen.

But it's a nice dream. How soon before it shows up in a fighting anime and gets demolished?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 06:22 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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January 02, 2016

Honorific "chi"

Is "chi" an honorific? It's not listed in the Wikipedia page about honorifics. And as I was looking at that, I suddenly realized that I had heard it several times, but only in various parts of the Nanoha canon.

In the second episode of Strikers, when the aces are helping to fight the fire at the airport, at one point Hayate is going to put out the fire in a big section by using her magic to freeze it all. Obviously she can't do that if there's anyone in it, so she recruits a couple of guys who are in her unit to make sure it's clear. One of them calls to her, "Yagami-chi, onegaishimasu!"

In the Vivid manga, during the investigation in the Infinity Library, it gets used twice that I noticed: once for Corona and once for Vivio. Both times, the girls are being treated with respect.

Which makes me wonder if it's a variation on "chan" which is more respectful. And it also makes me wonder if it's something the author invented.

So is it a real thing, or is it unique to the Nanoha canon?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 12:51 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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November 17, 2015

Yozakura quartet language usage

There are two peculiar things about the dialog in Yozakura Quartet I've been curious about.

First, a lot of the characters (and particularly Hime) greet each other with something that sounds like maidou instead of something like konichiwa. "Maidou" isn't a word but "Maido" means "thank you for your continuing patronage". It's something a clerk in a store would say to a customer. Is that really what she's saying?

Second is more complicated to explain. One of the youkai in the show is named Rin. She works for a ramen shop and does deliveries. She is a zombie.

She doesn't stagger around and say brainz brainz and in fact if you weren't told she was a yousei you wouldn't know it. Regardless, Akine calls her Rinoji. In the show's wiki, that means "Rin-shaped person".

OK, so I got that "ji" means "person". But how do you get "shaped" out of that? Is it Rin no ji that he's saying?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 09:33 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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August 19, 2015

Engrish as she is spoken

This is part of the cover of a doujinshi, offered without comment:


UPDATE: I can't resist: "Close but no cigal."

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 08:12 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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July 07, 2015

What is this character?


I've got everything else in that balloon but I can't figure out the first character (i.e. the upper right). It says


...I think... But I can't make any sense of it without knowing what that first word is. I keep running into this character in the Japanese version of the Vivid manga, and it's always a roadblock.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 10:12 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
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June 07, 2015


English needs a word like あの人 anohito (pronounced "a-noh-shtoh"). It means "that person" and it's a completely neutral way to refer to someone. Anything can be offensive, of course, depending on how it's used, but as far as I can tell in normal usage anohito is not considered offensive.

The advantage of the word is that it doesn't imply anything at all about the one being referenced. It doesn't even imply a sex; you can use it for men or for women. It doesn't imply any kind of age; you can use it for kids or for adults. It works for people you know, people you don't know, people you like, people you don't like, and anyone else.

Reason I need that word is to refer to the person whose surname is "Jenner" who is in the news right now. I don't feel comfortable right now using either "he" or "she" for anohito, and picking either "Bruce" or "Caitlyn" forces me to decide on one or the other.

If I refer to Jenner as "him" the PC Police will arrest me. If I refer to Jenner as "her" it makes me feel like barfing. Powerline says Jenner hasn't gone under the knife yet. Photos indicate that Jenner has been undergoing hormone treatment, though, and has grown breasts. If Powerline is right, it means that at the moment Jenner is a hermaphrodite and we English speakers don't actually have an appropriate pronoun for hermaphrodites.

If I used the English phrase "that person" it wouldn't be neutral. In English that's a little rude, and it also makes clear my discomfort with other ways of referring to that person.

So I need to borrow anohito for this instance.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 10:43 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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April 22, 2015

Translation notes

When I was plundering Dog Days S3 last night, I was going through the [FBI] sub that I just downloaded. Previously I had been watching HorribleSubs (i.e. stolen from Funimation or Crunchyroll) with which I have not been totally satisfied. Anyway, I started jotting down notes, and here they are:

In episode 5, HorribleSubs translated moribito as "Forest People", which is a literal translation. FBI translated that as "dryads", which I like better even though it's less precise.

In episode 6, HorribleSubs translated omiai as "arranged marriage meeting". FBI had it as "engagement meeting" which is a lot better.

FBI translated shin ryu as "Divinegon", which is weird, instead of as "true dragon". (But they weren't consistent about it.)

Ep 6, during his period of anonymity, Horriblesubs translated all references to Lief as "they". That's a little too politically correct to me since it was blatantly obvious that the challenger was male. FBI uses "he" and "him".

Ep 6, Horriblesubs makes his name "Leaf Lang du Sha Halver". FBI says "Lief Langue de Chat Halver" -- which is at least more classy.

Ep 7, The Genoise call Godwin o-chan which is difficult to translate. The chan honorific is very familiar and can be taken as insulting depending on circumstances. One place you'll run into it is tou-chan referring to one's father, which is best translated as "Daddy". In this case, with the Genoise using it for Godwin, it is a bit too familiar and is just a touch mocking. The reason they can get away with it is that they're not under his command, and none of them give anything away to him in combat ability or magic, and he knows it. As Gaul's personal guard, the Genoise arguably rank him in terms of status, so they're talking "down", as it were. HorribleSubs made it "old man"; which at least conveys the familiarity and a degree of rudeness. FBI dodged the whole issue and just used "Godwin" instead.

Ep 7, when Godwin announces the duel, he uses Kisamara to refer to his soldiers. FBI makes that "Soldiers". Horriblesubs didn't translate it. So? Kisamara is the plural of kisama which is one of the word that means "you". It's also extremely rude and hostile; often it's fighting words. It's also thug-speak; it's something you'd hear more often from someone using ore than from boku. Most of the characters in DBZ use it to each other, for instance. It's just about the strongest in the language and it's worse than temee.

Ep 7, when Nanami gets MCSA'ed, and Noir announces it. Horriblesubs says, "Nice fanservice from Prince Leaf to the Galette Knights." FBI says, "Prince Lief, the Galettian Knights are grateful for your performance!" She actually used the word "sabisu", which has always meant "fan service" in this show, so FBI is dodging another one.

Jaune's accent drives me nuts. I think it's Kansai-ben. It's the same dialect as Hayate speaks in Nanoha Strikers. (Which doesn't make any sense since she grew up in the same city as Nanoha and Nanoha speaks with a vanilla Tokyo accent.) As to Jaune, TVTropes says, "Osaka-ben is generally used to indicate a fun loving, impatient, loud, boisterous personality" -- which perfectly describes Jaune.

Ep 9, sorabito. Horriblesub took that one literally, too, thus "sky people". FBI used "sylphs", which is classier.

In case you're interested, the disease is 病魔 byouma.

Horriblesubs calls the miniature Farine's "avatars". FBI calls them "sprites", which again I think is better.

Horriblesubs "songstress" -> FBI "diva". Dunno about that one.

Horriblesubs "disciple" -> FBI "apostle".

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 03:12 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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