Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

Japanese for dummies (and fanboys/girls)
Mystic Hand at 11:47AM, Jan. 7, 2007
posts: 118
joined: 10-17-2006
Darth Mongoose
…the sins of looking up names using a dictionary…

I saw the live-action Death Note a few days ago and it reminded me of your comments about translated character names sounding silly. And it works both ways. “Raito” sounds weird enough in Japanese, but translated to “Light” it's even worse. (It's another one of the pitfalls of giving your character a blatantly symbolic name.)

If you're familiar with the series, maybe you can answer a question that has bugged me from the start – the name “Kira.” It seems a trite, effeminate name to give to a savior/murderer/death-god like character, especially since it's traditionally a girl's name and Raito is male. But while watching the film, it suddenly occurred to me that “Kira” was simply Engrish for “Killer.”

Am I wrong? Does Kira have some obvious significance in Japanese that I'm missing?
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:09PM
Darth Mongoose at 1:25PM, Jan. 8, 2007
posts: 488
joined: 1-7-2006
Yeah, his name is MEANT to be ‘Killer’, but every fan translation I've ever read of the manga had him called ‘Kira’. Then again, a lot of them called him ‘Raito’ for ages, not realising his name is supposed be be ‘Light’. I haven't read the official translation (I went off the series after my favourite character died, some time back) but I really hope they got the names right. Still doesn't rank up for me with the horrible official translation of the Hellsing anime, in which Alucard (Dracula backwards, duuuh) is called ‘Arkard’ …who translated that? A monkey?
The Japanese do come up with some crackingly bad English names. Trigun wins the prize for me, with a character called ‘Knives’ and a MAN named ‘Ruth Loose’ …seriously. BUT from what I've seen, the Japanese seem to be slightly less bad with English names than amateur manga artists are with Japanese. You don't see characters in Japanese manga with names like ‘Cool Attack’, but you may well see characters in online manga with names like ‘Kakoii Tatakau’ (which means ‘cool attack’, in case you're wondering).
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:08PM
Friedenmann at 9:03AM, Feb. 18, 2007
posts: 87
joined: 11-26-2006
I wrote a script which my friend is now drawin' in manga style. It will be read from right to left, but no Japanese words. The main characters are Danes anyway, so overusage of Japanese doesn't make sense here.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:31PM

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