Hey guys! Time for another Lost in Translation! This entry is courtesy of our pun-loving snow maiden from episode 8 of Demi-chan wa Kataritai. I thought we’d keep things a little simple (given I just came from a a fiasco involving faulty internet connections and housemates) and talk a little bit about puns. For the Japanese, at least, puns are pretty much standard fare in comedy owing to the “sound-poor” nature of the Japanese language. What this means is that homophones — words that sound alike, but have different meanings — are quite common, such that its use (or overuse) isn’t all that surprising when it comes to utilizing them for comedic effect.
Regardless, the Japanese still distinguish between good and bad puns, the latter often referred to by the coarse term dajare (ダジャレ). So strap yourselves in for a closer look into some of these stupid puns that pellet this week’s episode of Demi-chan wa Kataritai as we figure out just what was Lost in Translation!
This episode’s puns all come from fictional mangas that are introduced by Makie, the first of which is an obvious reference to Van Helsing from the Dracula novels. According to Makie, the protagonist of this story is sort of like a mash-up between Batman and Lupin III with a penchant for punishing corrupt political figures by sucking their blood. In particular, he leaves notes for his unknowing victims with riddles to solve, only for the answer to always be “not enough blood”, before he eventually swoops in and sucks them dry.
In the following panel, we get a glimpse of one of these riddles:
This is basically a crossword that asks the person what letter is missing. So in the vertical direction, we have TO_GI , whilst in the horizontal, we have _BA. The question asked in this particular puzzle was “complete the names of the prefectures”, hence the answer is CHI to complete the names TOCHIGI and CHIBA.
The answer “CHI is missing” is said in Japanese as “chi ga tarinai” (「ち」が足りない), wherein the word “chi” can also mean “blood”; also, the verb “tarinai” literally means “not enough”. This brings us to the pun “not enough blood” (「血」が足りない).
But as is with jokes like this, the Japanese like to take things one step further. Yet ANOTHER pun is brought in at the resolution of the manga panels, where we see the phrase “ansoku no chi wa nai” (安息の「ち」は無い):
In this case, the “chi” here means “land”, resulting in a rough translation of “There’s no place to rest”. Although this might be looking too far into things, it’s amusing to note that “ansoku no chi” is a possible reference to the Japanese name of Eric Clapton’s 1975 album “There’s one in every crowd”, which was translated as “ansoku no chi wo motomete” (安息の地を求めて, lit. “longing for a safe haven”). So I guess another way of translating this is “There’s no safe haven” — which to some extent kinda works given Makie did mention that this was a very old manga.
The next pun is from a romance manga involving a snow maiden, and has a pretty simple premise behind its play on words. Here, we see two lines that play on the word “tokeru“, which on the one hand means “melt”, but can also mean “to undo” or “to wear off”:
So yeah — “It feels like my body is going to melt” and “The magic will wear off”. Quite simple, but it looks like Yuki is having a blast with these innocent little word crimes.
Which makes you wonder — what did Yuki find so funny when Makie started talking about her own story when she was being bullied back in Middle school?
This pun is a bit more cryptic, but is a play on the word “Ijiru” (弄る), which can mean “to tease” but at the same time can be used in not so innocent contexts to imply “fondling/tampering” in a salacious manner. So the joke here is that Makie was, indeed, “teased” when she was in middle school… but in the end, she ended up “teasing” her would-be oppressor.
It’s definitely not the most direct of jokes, and it was definitely something that flew over my head when I first watched the scene. But at least after dissecting it, I was able to understand a bit more why Yuki was so floored by Makie’s otherwise serious story. It’s a small little thing, but definitely something that was Lost in Translation.
Have you happened to come across something in animeland that you think was Lost in Translation? Do feel free to share it in the comments! Until next time, ciao!