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Japanese Comedy: Who Gets It?


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Zoe



Joined: 05 Jul 2003
Posts: 897
Location: Austin

PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 2:04 pm Reply with quote
MorwenLaicoriel wrote:
I'm pretty sure Japanese people don't hate all sarcasm. I've seen it in anime--like when Psyren (Siren? How do they spell her name...?) calls Ed "Ochibi-chan"--which (loosely) translates into something like "Sacred cute little thing" ('sacred' because the 'O' is normally used in front of something considered to be particularly important to the Japanese...everything from their gods, to...sushi and sake.). I'm pretty sure she wasn't using it seriously...Anime hyper


I wouldn't call that comedy... that's pretty much just using sarcasm as a means to insult somebody (which is used quite a bit with honorifics).
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Cloe
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 2:20 pm Reply with quote
hayakunero wrote:
That means the joke has nothing to do with Osaka-ben? Then what Cloe-san doesn't get isn't the whole Osaka-ben humor thing. Question

D'oh, you're right. I meant "Nandeyanen." But the whole routine goes right over my head, to be honest.
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TranceLimit174



Joined: 21 Jul 2004
Posts: 733

PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2006 10:19 pm Reply with quote
After watching the first 5 episodes of PaniPoni Dash, I think I finally get how Japanese humor works. During the show I found myself laughing following up with "what was that about?" For some reason I flashed back to a psychology class I took, and I remembered that humor or something funny is defined by unexpectedness. Then it hit me that the Japanese take this quite literally. It's funny because it's unexpected (example being unsheathing a bouquet of flowers instead of a sword). It's a different form of humor that we in the US aren't really used to. It may not always make me laugh as hard as plenty of stand-up comedians do, but with this newfound understanding I definitley enjoy it much more.
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tenkado-shujin



Joined: 25 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2006 4:41 am Reply with quote
Ohoni wrote:

Ichigo in Bleach's name means "first", because it uses the kanji for "ichi" (1), and "go" (counting particle as in "first, second third), but it can also be translated as "strawberry" (different kanji though), something that is referenced at least a couple of times in the series in a comical fashion.


abunai wrote:

There are several words that are homonyms with this. As you correctly pointed out, ichigo (written with just one kanji, as 苺) can mean "strawberry". But ichigo written with the kanji 一個 can also mean "one unit" or "first unit" in the sense of counting things (especially round or boxy items) or military units.


The reading of the kanji 一個 is ikko.
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abunai
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Joined: 05 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2006 3:04 pm Reply with quote
tenkado-shujin wrote:
Ohoni wrote:

Ichigo in Bleach's name means "first", because it uses the kanji for "ichi" (1), and "go" (counting particle as in "first, second third), but it can also be translated as "strawberry" (different kanji though), something that is referenced at least a couple of times in the series in a comical fashion.


abunai wrote:

There are several words that are homonyms with this. As you correctly pointed out, ichigo (written with just one kanji, as 苺) can mean "strawberry". But ichigo written with the kanji 一個 can also mean "one unit" or "first unit" in the sense of counting things (especially round or boxy items) or military units.


The reading of the kanji 一個 is ikko.

Yes, when read alone. In compounds, such as 一個人, it can be read as ichiko (-jin in the case of this compound). That is, with the ichi fully enunciated, instead of truncated with sokuon.

It's not such as stretch to imagine the ko undergoing the transformation from unvoiced ko to voiced go. Although I will freely admit that no such transformation has occurred in any of the compounds including the 個 kanji, that I know of... At least, I don't think it's such a stretch that it precludes punning.

- abunai
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hayakunero



Joined: 06 Feb 2004
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2006 7:35 pm Reply with quote
一護って「一つのものを護り通す」みたいな意味じゃありませんでしたか?はっきり覚えてないですけど。だから一護の「一」はfirstじゃなくてoneのほうではないかと。間違ってたらすみません。
ええとこれを英語で言わないとしかられるのよね。 Surprised
As far as I remember, Ichigo means to protect (defend, guard??) one thing till the end. So I think the ichi means "one".

[quote="abunai]
It's not such as stretch to imagine the ko undergoing the transformation from unvoiced ko to voiced go. Although I will freely admit that no such transformation has occurred in any of the compounds including the 個 kanji, that I know of... At least, I don't think it's such a stretch that it precludes punning.

- abunai[/quote]
そうですね。多分「個」は「ご」と読むことはないと思いますよ。一個から十個まで言ってみました。 Laughing
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frentymon
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2006 7:59 pm Reply with quote
hayakunero wrote:
そうですね。多分「個」は「ご」と読むことはないと思いますよ。


That's too bad...otherwise we could have stupid puns involving 一期, 一護, 一個, 苺, and maybe a pet cat named イチゴ.
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tenkado-shujin



Joined: 25 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2006 2:13 pm Reply with quote
abunai wrote:
tenkado-shujin wrote:
Ohoni wrote:

Ichigo in Bleach's name means "first", because it uses the kanji for "ichi" (1), and "go" (counting particle as in "first, second third), but it can also be translated as "strawberry" (different kanji though), something that is referenced at least a couple of times in the series in a comical fashion.


abunai wrote:

There are several words that are homonyms with this. As you correctly pointed out, ichigo (written with just one kanji, as 苺) can mean "strawberry". But ichigo written with the kanji 一個 can also mean "one unit" or "first unit" in the sense of counting things (especially round or boxy items) or military units.


The reading of the kanji 一個 is ikko.

Yes, when read alone. In compounds, such as 一個人, it can be read as ichiko (-jin in the case of this compound). That is, with the ichi fully enunciated, instead of truncated with sokuon.

It's not such as stretch to imagine the ko undergoing the transformation from unvoiced ko to voiced go. Although I will freely admit that no such transformation has occurred in any of the compounds including the 個 kanji, that I know of... At least, I don't think it's such a stretch that it precludes punning.

- abunai


Well, if I may say it without disrespect, it seems that you failed in analysing and resolving 一個人 and erroneously thought 一個人 was composed of 一個 and 人. Actually, 一個人 is composed of 一 and 個人. Even if you broke it off from 一個人 in that wrong way by force, the fragment could not be regarded as a real Japanese expression which is composed of the numeral 一 and the counter for objects 個 and is pronounced いちこ ichiko.
And if you 'freely admit that no such transformation has occurred in any of the compounds include the 個 kanji', I wonder why you said, '...ichigo written with the kanji 一個 can also mean "one unit" or "first unit" in the sense of counting things (especially round or boxy items) or military units'. It sounds as if you believed that the reading of 一個 was ichigo.
Anyway, the reading of 一個 is いっこ ikko, not いちご ichigo. I'm sorry to say so, but since いっこ, the reading of 一個, and いちご, that of 一護, are rather different, even if you dare try to use 一個 in order to pun on 一護 and personally you are under the impression that you are succeeding in the attempt to make a Japanese pun on 一護, in reality the result sounds rather far-fetched and lame to native users of Japanese, especially when there are other Japanese words which are more suitable to pun on 一護.
Since the originator of the theory that Ichigo 'uses the kanji for "ichi"(1), and "go" (counting particle as in "first, second third)' is Ohoni, not you abunai, you may not be particularly interested in advocating the theory in question, however.

As to your ability in Japanese and knowledge of Japanese culture, it seems that some people discussed them on a Japanese bulletin board.
http://anime.2ch.net/​test/​read.​cgi/​asaloon/​1161338382/​148-​150
http://anime.2ch.net/​test/​read.​cgi/​asaloon/​1161338382/​403-​410

By the way, on the Japanese bulletin board there is also a posting which says ANN staffers read messages posted on it and there is another posting too saying someone in the ANN editorial office proposed that Chris should object to what those Japanese people had said about Anime News Network and its staff there.
http://anime.2ch.net/​test/​read.​cgi/​asaloon/​1161338382/​414-​422
Tempest, is it true that your message was going to be translated into Japanese and was going to be posted on the Japanese bulletin board?
And did an ANN staffer post Message No.414 and No.422 (and also No.418 perhaps) on it?
Some Japanese people seem to want to read the message from the Editor in Chief of Anime News Network there.
http://anime.2ch.net/​test/​read.​cgi/​asaloon/​1161338382/​439-​441
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Tempest
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2006 5:17 pm Reply with quote
tenkado-shujin wrote:

By the way, on the Japanese bulletin board there is also a posting which says ANN staffers read messages posted on it and there is another posting too saying someone in the ANN editorial office proposed that Chris should object to what those Japanese people had said about Anime News Network and its staff there.
http://anime.2ch.net/​test/​read.​cgi/​asaloon/​1161338382/​414-​422
Tempest, is it true that your message was going to be translated into Japanese and was going to be posted on the Japanese bulletin board?


The topic was brought up. It was decided that going out of our way to address outside criticism on other forums isn't usually worth it. We've done it on a few other websites, and a few people appreciated it, but for the most part, people were unmoved. Even when we convince everyone involved, if you look at the time it takes (and this is in English), that time can generally be better used creating more content for ANN and managing the site.

Over a million people read ANN, Obviously a certain percentage will disapprove of what we say, how we do things, etc... Even if that percentage is only 1%, there's no way we can go out and answer those 1% on whatever Internet forums they may chose to voice their discontent on (that is after all, over 10,000 people).

Quote:
And did an ANN staffer post Message No.414 and No.422 (and also No.418 perhaps) on it?


I honestly do not know who posted those messages. They may, or may not be by ANN staff. Obviously whoever posted it had some understanding of the fact that we were discussing the issue internally, but they seem to have gotten the conclusion wrong.

Quote:
Some Japanese people seem to want to read the message from the Editor in Chief of Anime News Network there.


I wish I could read/write Japanese, I honestly do. Unfortunately at this juncture, it wouldn't be very intelligent of me to take one of our translators off another project, and have them translate 2ch postings for me, as well as my responses for 2ch.

My schedule just never seems to offer up enough free time for me to take proper Japanese courses. And of course, even if it did, it would be years before I could respond on 2ch.

If there is enough interest in my opinion, there are some Japanese Journalists whom I respect and would be happy to speak to at lengths regarding the "Tao of ANN" if they were interested in conducting such an interview and translating it into Japanese.

Regarding the Tori Koro review, I have received more than one comment from Japan on the review.

I discussed the issue at length with one person who was very polite and suggested it was a cultural issue. To which I agree.

Many 4-Koma rely on a style of humor that westerners simply don't find funny. Even translated perfectly, some material just isn't funny to Westerners, even Westerners who appreciate and are interested in Japanese culture.

Also, we're reviewing a translation, it's quite possible that the translator did not manage to capture the essence of what is actually funny in the manga. In the future, we may in fact have a new feature on ANN that compares original Japanese material to the translated North American versions, and discusses how, and why, they diverge.

However, when it comes to reviews, our job, is to review the version marketed to North American anime fans, from a North American anime fan's point of view. Reviewing the original version, from a Japanese fan's point of view, would serve no purpose for our readers.

I'd like to point out that several anime that didn't do particularly well in Japan, have been quite successful here. It's not always a matter of North American's no appreciating the original material, sometimes it's just the opposite, we appreciate it more than the people for whom is was originally made.

If anyone is so inclined to translate the above into Japanese, please feel free, but I probably won't be able to maintain an ongoing discussion on the topic.

Regards,

Christopher Macdonald
Editor in Chief
Anime News Network
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Past



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 9:12 pm Reply with quote
I'm going to revive this thread after a little lapse but I'm going to take it to somewhat of a tangent. I would like to comment of the uses of pauses in Japanese humor. It seems to be quite a staple of a type of simple, slapstick humor and also where the script goes into monologue format. There are always carefully placed pauses that are sometimes as funny if not funnier than something completely unexpected happening. These pauses are commonly followed by or accompanied with a shallow sound effect, very awkward expressions by other characters or just a sudden outburst of random activity. I find this humor extremely funny but I am also a big fan of British humor which also employs lots of slapstick and dialogue mishaps but the use of comedic pauses isn't used nearly as extensively as in anime and Japanese comedy TV. In stand up comedy this type of humor is really tough to employ effectively because you really need to know your audience well in order to anticipate whether a sudden abrupt stop is going to generate a roar of laughter or leave the room in a continued dead silence. I think only veteran comedians like Robin Williams and The Smothers Brothers were some of very few who could master the art of laughter from silence.
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tenkado-shujin



Joined: 25 Oct 2006
Posts: 152

PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 4:22 pm Reply with quote
Thank you for your exposition, tempest.

tempest wrote:
The topic was brought up. It was decided that going out of our way to address outside criticism on other forums isn't usually worth it.

Since the person who posted Message No.422 said that he was asked to translate your objection into Japanese and post it on the Japanese bulletin board but he declined, he might be a translator for Anime News Network. He also said the reason for having declined to translate and post it was that he thought to translate the objection and to post it were absurd things and that opinion of his pleased the ANN staffer(s). The reasons not to respond to the postings you mentioned here sound more serious, though.
Regarding the reason that you would not respond to them, another poster said, 'ボロが出るから、書き込むわけがない' on the Japanese bulletin board.
Judging from the context, it seems to be probably related to the ANN staff's ability in Japanese. I'm not sure whether the poster's guess about the reason is right, but even if you choose not to take issue with them on the Japanese bulletin board, at least a problem concerning the importance of the ability in Japanese still exists. And as you manage Anime News Network as a serious and professional site about anime and manga, rather than as a 'zine' about anime and manga which amateurs light-heartedly write for and edit just for fun, the ability in Japanese will matter anyway. If Joe Bloggs in Canada buys some translated Japanese novels at a local Chapters store and reads and enjoys them merely as a passtime, questions such as 'Can he read and write Japanese very well?', 'Has he systematically read many important Japanese literary and scholarly works in the original?' and the like are probably rarely brought up. But if he writes articles on Japanese literature for serious magazines specialising in Japanese literature and becomes an editor of one of such literary magazines, those things will inevitably count.
Since you said you wished you could read/write Japanese and it seems that you consider taking Japanese courses and think that to better the site is a way to respond to people who criticise ANN, I suppose you recognise the problem well, however.

tempest wrote:
If there is enough interest in my opinion, there are some Japanese Journalists whom I respect and would be happy to speak to at lengths regarding the "Tao of ANN" if they were interested in conducting such an interview and translating it into Japanese.

As you develop Anime News Network, probably occasions where you communicate with Japanese fans of anime and manga and Japanese people in the industries will increase and it will be an important thing. I hope I will read articles in Japanese written by you and interview articles of you with Japanese journalists in the near future.
You may be too modest to mention your own appearances in media, but didn't a Japanese TV crew interview you when you were in Japan?

tempest wrote:
Regarding the Tori Koro review, I have received more than one comment from Japan on the review.

I suppose some of the comments on the Tricolo review you mentioned had been done on a thread of 2ch about Hǎilán.
Also on the Hǎilán thread, there was a posting saying that ANN staffers read the Hǎilán thread and advising other posters not to criticise ANN. That posting may have been written by one of the ANN staff, too.
As to Tricolo, it's not bad and Tricolo has been popular among 4-koma manga fans. See the covers of Manga Time Kirara which carried it.
Tricolo sometimes also deals with somewhat serious things in a sensitive and gentle manner and it even has references to Japanese literature.
If English-speaking readers thought the ComicsOne/DrMaster edition of Tricolo was not interesting, unfortunately it is probable that the translated Tricolo is just a shadow of its true self.

A poster on the Hǎilán thread mentioned one of ANN's review guidelines which said that reviews should cover translation quality and he suspected that it had become merely in name only and critics who had language ability and knowledge to judge the translation quality of manga were probably rare. The poster also wrote about non-Japanese people who were too ready to mention Azumanga Daioh in discourse about 4-koma manga because of their being ignorant of other 4-koma manga. If you ask Donald Richie about jidaigeki, probably he can easily mention many key films, directors, and actors of the genre, can talk knowledgeably about them, and has already watched and appreciated those Japanese films. When ANN is going to carry a critique of a 4-koma manga, I'd like to suggest to you that you should ask candidates for critic some equivalent questions about 4-koma manga.

Another poster said it was regrettable that Tricolo was seen as an uninteresting manga in English-speaking countries because of the poor translation. And he said ANN's reviews were, for good or ill, influential and hoped critics who can give an expert opinion on translation quality will write reviews for ANN. He also criticised Carlo Santos, whose Japanese is, to borrow Carlo's own words, 'about kindergarten-level', for having reviewed an imported Japanese novel, too.
animenewsnetwork.com/bbs/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=26351
I think it is not necessarily a bad thing to have set your sights high in writing the Review Guidelines, but do all of the ANN reviewers understand Japanese extremely well to the degree where they are able to give an expert opinion on the translation quality of anime and manga?
And forgive me for having to ask this, but if you were the editor in chief of a serious Canadian magazine on Japanese literature and your magazine is going to proudly carry a critical essay in which a critic will pass a judgement upon the imported original edtion of a Japanese literary work and will even write about the Japanese style of the Japanese author and the essay declares the criticised book to be the imported original Japanese edtion, will you appoint a person who cannot read Japanese well and depends upon a 'crib' which is in turn amateurs' patchwork translation obtained at a questionable place as critic who is going to write the critical essay?

tempest wrote:
Many 4-Koma rely on a style of humor that westerners simply don't find funny. Even translated perfectly, some material just isn't funny to Westerners, even Westerners who appreciate and are interested in Japanese culture.

Humour in manga is often difficult to appreciate for non-Japanese people.
In Dôjin Work a character often speaks in special styles and each of his special styles is amusingly inappropriate or appropriate in an OTT way to the content of what he says or the situation where he is. If a non-Japanese reader or a translator is going to appreciate the funniness of such a scene in the original Japanese edition, he must be able to understand how different the character's Japanese is from 'neutral' Japanese and how inappropriate his style is to the content or the situation.
Also in Pani-Poni, supplementary components such as stylistic nuances and connotative meanings sometimes play important roles. If managing to grasp just the cognitive meaning of the dialogue is all a foreign reader can do and he cannot appreciate the stylistic nuances, connotations, etc., he will miss the point. When a translator is under the impression that he understands a piece of Japanese discourse, it is probable that in reality what he can figure out is merely the cognitive meaning of it and he cannot comprehend the stylistic nuances, connotative meanings and the like of it. Even Basil Hall Chamberlain had not been able to understand the nuance and connotation of a Japanese expression when he had translated a Japanese poem into English and later he was criticised by Donald Keene for it. Brigid Alverson wrote, 'We’re starting to feel like we’re missing something.' http://www.mangablog.net/​?​p=​163
Probably her guess is right, perhaps more than she expected.

tempest wrote:
Also, we're reviewing a translation, it's quite possible that the translator did not manage to capture the essence of what is actually funny in the manga. In the future, we may in fact have a new feature on ANN that compares original Japanese material to the translated North American versions, and discusses how, and why, they diverge.

That is an interesting idea. Some publishers, translators, and reviewers may not welcome it and the project will require a critic who can understand Japanese perfectly, though. I hope that ANN will carry such articles in which a capable critic will compare the translation with the original Japanese edition and analyse them.

tempest wrote:
However, when it comes to reviews, our job, is to review the version marketed to North American anime fans, from a North American anime fan's point of view. Reviewing the original version, from a Japanese fan's point of view, would serve no purpose for our readers.

Certainly, if a writer in a non-Jpanese country writes a review of a manga for general readers, probably he will deal with the translated edition marketed to them. But the translated edition's being marketed to the general readers and whether it is a reliable edition is two different things. Rather than to ask you to review the original edition from a Japanese fan's point of view, probably what the Japanese posters were thinking was the matter of validity of a critique of a translated manga in case of the translation's being poor, inadequate, etc.
And a possible related danger about reviewing a translated manga is that some people, including the critic himself if the worst comes to the worst, naïvely think script-related defects pointed out in the review can be simply and automatically attributed to the creator of the original edition and are not mindful that possibly those defects should be attributed to problems related to translation. The reason why you wisely wrote that item in the Review Guidelines was that you recognised translation-related problems similar to these, I presume.
Speaking of reviews of 4-koma manga, on the ANN forum you said that you were going to review the ComicsOne edition of a 4-koma manga by Mook for Protoculture Addicts but the translated edition seemed to be unfunny to you and you were afraid that you were missing something. That may have been a similar case. Did you defer writing the review perhaps also your doubting the validity of a manga critique based on information you obtained from an inadequate translation, if I may ask?

tempest wrote:
I'd like to point out that several anime that didn't do particularly well in Japan, have been quite successful here. It's not always a matter of North American's no appreciating the original material, sometimes it's just the opposite, we appreciate it more than the people for whom is was originally made.

Even if an anime or manga is regarded as 'minor' by some people, still I often see Japanese who watch/read/talk about it. To borrow your words used on a thread about conventions, anime and manga are ubiquitous in Japan. In view of the size of the population i.e. the number of Japanese who watch anime/read manga, it is possible that the size of a 'minority', including 'silent minorities', is in a sense not necessarily small. when you think, 'It seems that there were not so many who watched this anime/read this manga in Japan, but a lot of people watch/read it in Canada.' or something along these lines, it might be better to take this factor into account.

tempest wrote:
If anyone is so inclined to translate the above into Japanese, please feel free, but I probably won't be able to maintain an ongoing discussion on the topic.

As the discussion in question on the Japanese bulletin board includes criticism on non-Japanese fans of anime and manga who show off their ability in Japanese and knowledge of Japanese things, including anime and manga, on anime-related fora but in reality are not good at Japanese and not knowledgeable of them, a non-Japanese person who dare translate what you wrote into Japanese may be one who is utterly confident in his Japanese.

Anyway, I would like to again thank you for your having taken the trouble to explain those matters and I hope for your success in learning Japanese, tempest.
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10円



Joined: 17 Jan 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 7:40 pm Reply with quote
That was a very interesting read, but perhaps it would be slightly more appropriately handled by PM. I already have a great deal of respect for tempest and tenkado-shujin is obviously knowledgeable about Japanese cultural and comedic elements, but I just can't shake the feeling that this was more of a personal matter somewhat ill-suited as an open letter attached to a resuscitated old thread for all to see.
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