It’s been a really… REALLY long time since I last did a Lost in Translation bit, but here we are! This entry comes from the first two episodes of Just Because! and is a good example of how the use of Japanese accents helps broaden character dynamics — something that can’t be easily portrayed through translated dialogue, alone.
I’ve mentioned it before in my old article about translating anime that regional accents and dialects are always a tricky thing to localize, because most of the time it’s more than just turning dialogue into stereotypical “redneck” lines (which was comically done by some fansub group in the past, which I will leave anonymous at this point). In the case of Just Because!, Haruto’s regional accent acts as his way of being more familiar with Eita after having not seen the later in over three years.
More specifically, Haruto speaks with a very mild accent that places his hometown somewhere in the North-Eastern part of the main island of Honshu, just south of Hokkaido. This area is known as the Tôhoku Region, and is the same place where Kazuha (girlish number) and Megumi Tadokoro (Food Wars!) are from. However, Haruto doesn’t have it as thick as these two girls, as he tends to only use the ending copula “be” (pronounced “beh” as in “BEverage”) in his sentences so as not to confuse the former Tokyoite Eita.
Because the truth is, many Japanese people who come from outside of Tokyo tend to hide their accent due to peer pressure. More specifically, people from the countryside tend to hide their regional accents whenever they’re in major cities, opting instead to use standard Japanese if only to please the people they’re talking to. This is the same reason why Kazuha and Megumi actually speak standard Japanese, and only revert to their regional accents as a matter of comedic effect.
And to be honest, I nearly missed Haruto’s accent, because he only ever really uses it in the flashback sequence after Eita mentions he and his family are moving to Fukuoka. It appears that his decision to open up his regional heritage is a sign of their closeness as friends, which is reciprocated by Eita when he emulates Haruto’s accent to confirm their promise of keeping in contact with one another.
Going back to the first episode, Haruto’s accent first leaks out after Eita challenges him to the plate, just before throwing a seriously fast straight ball, showing a growing sense of familiarity and nostalgia behind their encounter. His accent comes out even more after he gets fired up, before eventually reverting back to a regular Japanese accent just before he decides to run over to Morikawa at the end of the first episode. Perhaps this was Haruto’s way of apologizing for suddenly grabbing Eita the way he did, given they haven’t seen each other in years.
But in the second episode, his accent comes out again as the two are making their way over to the rendezvous point for the group outing. It shows that to some extent, Haruto and Eita are easily making up for lost time, and that despite not keeping their promise of staying in touch for three years, they’re still good buddies and all’s good.
So yeah, this is just a simple little example of how subtle accents actually convey quite a bit of nuance that isn’t portrayed through subtitles, alone. It’s thanks to things like this help heighten the character dynamics without unnecessarily complicating the dialogue, and is something that is, unfortunately, easily Lost in Translation.
And that does it for this installment of Lost in Translation. Is there anything you’ve seen in animeland that you couldn’t really understand and think might have been due to things being lost in translation? Don’t hesitate to ask me to help figure things out for you — I really love solving things like this! So until next time, ciao!