Anti-Paraphiliac Translation (Narutaru)
In this post I’ll cover some linguistic aspects of the Narutaru manga up to the fifth volume (sixth in the English version). Many of these points will deal with the systematic way in which the English translation eliminates references to paraphilias (sadomasochism, pedophilia, incest etc.).
I. The Title
We get a very big reference to the title of the show when Akira reminisces about the first time she was contacted by her dragon. The critter is telling her who it is, as well as human words can describe, and it says [according to the official English translation]: “Vessel…shell…the incomplete. Corpse…the empty body…that which is ended.” The words in red are originally in Japanese kara and mukuro respectively. Thus, although the title would have the star be a mukuro and the girl be a kara, here the dragon first identifies itself as both things, and then identifies itself with Akira, so the girl becomes both things as well. Dragon-star = kara = mukuro = child.
II. Father’s Memories
Mr. Tamai remembers when his daughter used to just run into the shower. In the English, Shiina has a towel on. In the original (ch. 8), the towel isn’t there. This just confirms the general lascivious flavor of the man’s thoughts.
III. Banda Academy
The girls’ school with the red stockings. Is it just a matter of style?
Actually, Banda (=万朶) means “Ten Thousand Branches”. There is an extremely popular Army song from 1911 called “Hohei no Honryo” which begins with the line: “The cherry blossoms of the ten thousand branches bear the color of lapel pins”. Imperial Japanese Army lapel pins and collars were red by regulation. In 1944, when the War situation became desperate, the Imperial Japanese Army began organizing suicide squadrons. The first of these was called the Banda Squadron. All of this might have something to do with the stockings.
There’s a scene where three university students are discussing how attractive Professor Tamai is, and the conversation shifts to her daughter Shiina, and the fact she’s in grade six (~12 years old). In the English translation the guy with the glasses says he’s willing to wait for her to grow up. Actually, in the original he simply says he prefers them that age. The other two men are quite shocked.
V. Fighter Jets
When Tamai and Ono go out flying, the sempai tells his co-worker that they might go to Russia and work on the Sukhoi Su-27 jet. The original has Ono say: “You mean the world’s strongest fighter?!” but the English brings it down a couple of notches: “one of the world’s hottest fighters!”. Is this nationalism on the part of the translators?!
VI. Takeo Flirts with Akira
Shiina and Akira decide to chase Takeo and up going to a warehouse where he waits for them with Norio. Vol. IV of the English translation (Vol. III in Japan) changes Takeo’s flirting radically. In the English he says he’s getting a strange vibe for her, asks her her age then Shiina glares at him. After the girls are gone, Norio and Takeo discuss this strange vibe and Takeo says she’ll grow up fast and he’ll be there to help… In the Japanese he begins by asking her to go out with him, then he says that one never knows when death will arrive so they should have fun. Shiina gives him the glare. Later on Takeo comments that he likes Akira and that she’s the sort of girl that tickles the sadistic instinct in a man. He adds that she’s probably a nymphomaniac!!
VII. Norio’s Sense of Humor
At the end of the English Vol. V (end of Japanese Vol. IV), Takeo tells Shiina that Norio’s dragon is called Ogre, only to have Norio retort that its real name is Neuter. In the Japanese, Takeo says Ogre again, but the name Norio gives for the creature is Vagina Dentata.
VIII. Shiina’s T-Shirts
Early on Shiina has a t-shirt with the Russian word for “Airplane” on it. The most reasonable assumption is that it’s a gift from her father, and as such it reinforces the notion that the Motoki pilots idolize Russian warplanes…. Later on, when Shiina “fights” with the visiting Miyako and Sato (Japanese Vol. VI) her shirt has a quote (in Latin) from the Hermetic classic The Emerald Table. Newton’s English translation of the quote reads: “That which is above is like that which is below”. For some reason the English version censors the esoteric statement and leaves Shiina with a plain white T-shirt.
IX. Little Things
a) Bungo Takano is renamed Kazuyuki Takano in the English translation…
b) There’s a scene where Miyako and Sato are driving a foreign car and Miyako is disoriented because he’s on the right and the steering wheel is on the left. He asks if they can switch to a Japanese car. Because the English manga was flipped, the man is now on the left and the steering wheel is on the right –yet they still have him confused and asking to switch to a Japanese car!! OMG.