Hey Guys! It’s time for another Lost in Translation! This entry comes, yet again, from Gabriel DropOut, this time from episode 7. This show really does have a lot of neat jokes that aren’t so much poorly translated as the are, really, just a result of cultural differences between English and Japanese. As I have mentioned in past entries, the translator for this series (if you’re watching the CrunchyRoll subs) is fairly liberal, but in many ways I think it’s a good thing.
But then of course, there are those jokes that have nuances in them that just don’t come across as easily due to cultural reasons. And I totally understand why, as a translator, one would opt out of translating such nuances — especially since one of the lines I’ll be discussing today has a “generational gap” joke to it.
So yeah, I’ll be discussing not just one, but two lines from episode 7. Excited? Then read on!
So the first line comes from the first half of this episode, where we see Vigne attempting to be “bad” by calling Gabriel something strange:
This translation is actually quite accurate, as we can see from the original Japanese line:
chou beri ba
(lit.) super very bad
This slang phrase was a truncation of “chou berii baddo” (super very bad), and was a popular phrase amongst middle and upper school girls during the late nineties. Although this particular phrase isn’t used anymore, the use of “chou” (超, lit. “super”) as a prefix to anything spoken in hyperbole has become pretty much staple for the youth. If you can recall the character Episode from NisiOisin’s Monogatari Series, for example, he always ends most of his sentences with the phrase “chou ukeru” (超ウケる, lit. “super laugh”, “what a riot!”).
So the joke here, basically, is how outdated the phrase is, making this more or less a “generational gap” joke that highlights the cafe-owner’s age. It’s amusing to see that quite a number of jokes in Gabriel DropOut play around with the theme of “generational gaps”, such as the previous gag I talked about in an earlier Lost in Translation.
But if I were to think of an equivalent phrase in English, I’d say the “It’s so bad” meme probably comes close. Although the term DOES refer to someone as being “really bad”, it wasn’t used in a literal sense — in fact, what it really meant was “so cool”. Heck, anything that was “BAD” in the nineties was pretty much “hip”. I mean, just look at Michael Jackson’s album “BAD”. So yeah, that’s the second part of this joke — as much as Vigne was trying to insult Gabriel by calling her “BAD”, she was actually giving her a compliment.
So instead of “Bad to the bone”, imagine Vigne saying, “Gab… you’re sooooo baaaad.”
Yeah… Pretty bad.
The second line I want to talk about comes from the second half of this episode, where Satania is seen chatting with Raphiel. After Raphiel asks Satania if she’s ever caught a cold, she replies with a strange idiomatic expression:
I’m pretty sure none of us have heard that phrase before, but there’s more to it when we look at Satania’s original Japanese line:
Uma ya shika no you ni joubu na hito wa kaze hikanai
(lit.) Horse (or) deer (like, in manner) healthy person (subj.) cold does not (get)
Translating that line, we get something along the lines of “Like the horse or deer, healthy people don’t catch colds”. This is actually a reference to a popular Christian praise/worship song called “As the Deer” (which itself was based on Psalm 42). So if I were to use a little creative liberty in translating the line, I’d probably make Satania say:
As the deer does not catch a cold, so shan’t I.
Now you might be wondering where the word “horse” went. This is actually a quirk in Japanese speech wherein people tend to quote people verbatim (because Satania was actually quoting Gabriel when she said this line). So this is actually a bit of characterization for Gabriel showing how she can’t even recall what animal is mentioned in the line of the song. So if we included that, we can make the line even weirder:
As the horse — or deer, whatever — does not catch a cold, so shan’t I.
Because the real joke in this phrase is that not only is the song’s line butchered into something totally nonsensical, but it was also recited by a demon, hence Raphiel’s contentment when she realizes Satania is oblivious to the fact.
So in summary, we just discussed a bit of generational gap comedy, and a demon unwittingly made to recite a line from a religious worship song. Gabriel DropOut really is one of those shows that requires quite a bit of attention in order to catch these subtle jokes, making it a show that is easily Lost in Translation.